traffic coming and going from the airport," said airport spokesman
Victor Gill. "When they do blend in, they are required to fly higher
and cannot do short circles at low altitudes."
Helicopter use at the airport is intermittent, but the past year
has seen an increase in training flights because of congestion and
delays at Van Nuys Airport, where many of the flight schools are
based, airport officials said.
Airport regulations prohibit helicopters from operating within 200
feet from where light aircraft are operating or parked, and prohibits
hovering not specifically associated with takeoff or landing.
But one flight school operator said there is a misunderstanding on
what the training involves.
"A helicopter can fly at any altitude the [air-traffic] controller
wants them to fly at," said Peter Lowry, president of Group 3
Aviation, which operates out of Van Nuys Airport. "Helicopters are
placed at lower altitudes than airplanes, which are larger and need
more room to maneuver."
Also, hovering a helicopter above a specific area is not part of
the training, said Lowry, who has operated his school for 13 years.
Group 3 has already signed an agreement with the airport to
conduct training at Bob Hope.
Continued use of the Burbank airport because of its proximity to
Van Nuys gives students a variety of airports to train at and "makes
them more competent and experienced pilots," Lowry said.
Attorneys with Orbic Air Inc., another of the flight schools using
Bob Hope airspace, were in negotiations with airport attorneys to
reach an agreement, a representative of Orbic Air said.
Attempts to reach a representative of Twin Air Inc., the third
training school using Bob Hope airspace, were unsuccessful.
The airport's regulations, written in 1978, spell out that student
instruction could not be conducted at the airport without an
agreement with the authority.
The FAA unintentionally violated the regulations when the
air-traffic controllers directed the training flights to one of the
runways, airport officials said.
"The FAA is not an enforcement agent of airport rules; it's
usually more in the business of bringing order to what's in the sky,"
Gill said. "The dialogue we've had with them has reawakened their
notice of this longtime rule."
The increase in helicopter traffic at the airport did result in
two incidents, airport officials said.
In September, a training helicopter crashed. And on April 9, a
training helicopter became disabled on a runway.
There were no injuries in either incident.