Lawmakers address long-time complaints about helicopters from residents

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Windward residents say they’ve been complaining for years about helicopters flying over their homes.

“Some people have these helicopters go over their homes every 20 minutes certain times of the day,” said Rep. Cynthia Thielen, (R) Kailua, Kaneohe Bay “That’s crazy and wrong. In this situation on that helicopter was going right smack over the densely populated Kailua area. There are preschools. There are elementary schools there.”

Both Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Sen. Laura Thielen are asking the FAA to immediately halt tour operations in Hawaii until they find out what happened. 

“They need to find out what’s going on with the numerous crashes that we’ve been having,” said Rep. Cyntia Thielen. “This latest is tragic.”

Although it’s too late for this year, Rep. Thielen says she’s already drafting a bill for next session.

“It will tell DOT (Department of Transportation) to limit the number of permits that you give tour aircraft, tour helicopters to use state airports,” said Rep. Thielen. 

Rep. Chris Lee agrees that something needs to be done. 

“We’re incredibly lucky it wasn’t worse, as tragic as it was,” said Rep. Chris Lee, (D), Kailua, Waimanalo. “But I think we’ll  have an obligation to take a look at what we can do this coming year because this is going to be a topic that gets a lot of discussion moving forward and certainly see a lot of action.”

He says it will be challenging considering the FAA controls the air space.

“At a local level we need to work on connecting with our federal partners to figure out what kind of limits we can establish to ensure public safety to make sure this doesn’t  happen again,” Lee explained. 

A bill died a few weeks ago that looked at regulating helicopter noise and where they can fly.

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