STAND. COM. REP. NO. 3809

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: H.C.R. No. 177

H.D. 1

S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Twenty-Ninth State Legislature

Regular Session of 2018

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committee on Government Operations, to which was referred H.C.R. No. 177, H.D. 1, entitled:

 

"HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION URGING VARIOUS GOVERNMENT ENTITIES TO DEVELOP, UPDATE, AND INTRODUCE POLICIES RELATED TO HELICOPTER AIR TOURS AT THE STATE AND NATIONAL LEVEL,"

 

begs leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to urge respective government entities at the state and national level to develop, update, and introduce policies related to helicopter air tours.

 

Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono and five individuals. Your Committee received comments on this measure through a petition containing the names of one hundred eighty-three individuals.

 

Your Committee finds that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the island of Hawaii, is managed by the Director of the National Park Service, which is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior, and has more non-essential tour helicopter overflights than any other individual park in the nation. Your Committee further finds that in recent years, helicopter noise as a result of commercial air tour flights over residential areas in the east Hawaii region of the island of Hawaii has reached an unprecedented level. Residents in Hāmākua, Hilo, Mountain View, Puna, Volcano, and Kaū have continued to raise issues of overflights, noise complaints, and safety with the state Department of Transportation, Honolulu Flight Standards District Office of the Federal Aviation Administration, and air tour helicopter operators.

 

Your Committee additionally finds that it has been fourteen years since the Federal Aviation Administration and National Park Service initially asked for comments on an Air Tour Management Plan Environmental Assessment and seven years since a preliminary draft Air Tour Management Plan for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was published. However, there is still no final Air Tour Management Plan for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the only rules that govern helicopter and fixed wing air tours over the airspace of the Hawaiian islands are contained in the decade-old Hawaii Air Tour Common Procedures Manual. This measure therefore urges various government entities to develop, update, and introduce policies related to helicopter air tours at the state and national level, including completing the Air Tour Management Plan for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Haleakalā, and other designated national parks throughout the nation; updating the Hawaii Air Tour Common Procedures Manual; and working with community stakeholders to address concerns related to noise complaints and safety issues.

 

Further, your Committee notes that despite the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration has regulatory authority over air space the State could still be taking affirmative steps to address some of the many concerns relating to air tours in the State. Therefore, your Committee finds that establishing a working group to be led by the Department of Transportation and including members from the Department of Health and relevant legislative committees that could develop state-level policies and procedures for managing air tours at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala, Punchbowl, and other designated locations throughout the State and coordinate communications between relevant state departments and agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration for the purposes of developing, updating, and introducing policies related to helicopter air tours would be beneficial.

 

Accordingly, your Committee has amended this measure by:

 

(1) Adding language expressing similar concerns relating to noise and flight-safety from air tours over the densely populated Punchbowl region of Oahu, in and around Punchbowl Crater and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific;

 

(2) Requesting the convening of a working group to be led by the Department of Transportation to develop state-level policies and procedures for managing air tours at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala, Punchbowl, and other designated locations throughout the State and to coordinate communications between relevant state departments and agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration for the purposes of developing, updating, and introducing policies related to helicopter air tours; and

 

(3) Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.

 

As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Government Operations that is attached to this report, your Committee concurs with the intent and purpose of H.C.R. No. 177, H.D. 1, as amended herein, and recommends its adoption in the form attached hereto as H.C.R. No. 177, H.D. 1, S.D. 1.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Government Operations,

 

 

 

________________________________

DONNA MERCADO KIM, Chair