April's deadly helicopter crash in Kailua has more communities calling for stricter regulations for Air Tour companies.

Some residents want more limits on where helicopters can fly, others on how low they can go.

Right now, tour helicopters must stay 1,500 feet above many areas on sunny days, but if skies are overcast they can fly at 500 feet. That can put them much closer to the communities below.

Being under the flight path of a helicopter can be loud.

At Sand Island, across from the airport takeoff zone choppers are only several hundred feet overhead.

But it is not the only spot getting buzzed according to residents.

"Waikiki, Aina Haina have been heavily impacted, and other communities including ones on the Big Island," according to Kailua resident Claudine Tomasa.

Noise is not the only concern from those in the flight path.

"The main complaint was noise, but I look at the public safety factor. There has been 3 helicopters crashing on Oahu's windward side within a year," added Tomasa.

Safety is also the top priority of the newly selected head of the Hawaii Helicopter Association Melissa Teves Pavlicek, "Working with the community to address safety concerns is a number one issue all the time."

Some residents want helicopters to steer clear of Kailua, something many tour operators have done since the deadly crash in April killed all three on board.

"I would like to see a limitation or maybe a no fly zone over populated areas in regards to tour helicopters. There is no reason why they should be flying over populated areas," stated Tomasa.

But pilots have to follow the Hawaii Air Tour Procedures manual, which hasn't been updated in more than a decade.

"The flight control areas are set by the FAA or the military where helicopters need to fly. So these are things that need to be part of the conversation over what paths should be taken," added Pavlicek.

Updates to the manual are underway. In the meantime, Kailua skies are clearer, but the same can't be said for every community.

"So far it is working here. But maybe the tour helicopters are flying over other communities, so there may have to be more discussion," said Tomasa.

Discussions with neighborhood boards are taking place this week, and talks between the State Department of Transportation and the tour industry have been underway since last year.
Meanwhile an FAA spokesperson said most complaints come from the Big Island. The FAA conducts random surveillance on air tour operators, but according to the government organization there were no altitude violations observed in recent years by air tour operators.

Residents can report violations to the FAA or the HHA website at https://www.planenoise.com/hha/

Complaints go to a third party and the information is then turned over to the state.
There are even apps like Flightradar24 that people can use that show the height of helicopters flying overhead, to make sure they are following the rules.

"We're not against their business. We want to see that they are flying and are going to protect the public," stated Tomasa.

Starting in January 2020, helicopters flying out of Honolulu will have to include equipment that will broadcast registration number as well as flight information including altitude.