Helicopter noise to be addressed soon by federal electeds

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Helicopter in riverDecember 21, 2013- A press release was issued by New York’s senators:


Elected Officials Press FAA to Restrict Flight Hours of Operation and Frequency of Helicopters Taking Off and Landing in Lower Manhattan, Ensure that Helicopters Operating Around New York Harbor Follow Flight Paths

New York, NY – Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), and Michael Grimm (R-NY) pressed the FAA to take action to reduce excessive helicopter noise for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island residents. With the rising level and frequency of tourist helicopter noise negatively impacting the quality of life for many New Yorkers, the elected officials asked FAA Eastern Regional Administrator Carmine Gallo to work with the local community to develop a plan that would result in the reduction of helicopter noise levels near residential neighborhoods along New York Harbor, and ensure that commercial helicopters flying over Staten Island adhere to flight paths already in place.

In a letter to FAA Eastern Regional Administrator Gallo, the officials wrote, “We are writing regarding concerns that have been brought to our attention from residents living near routes that are heavily used by helicopters on the New York City side of New York Harbor.  It has come to our attention that excessive helicopter noise continues to rise to a level and frequency that negatively affects the quality of life for those living along the Harbor… We would like to work with you and with representatives of the local community to develop a plan to monitor and ultimately reduce the amount of noise experienced by Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island residents.”

“The constant barrage of helicopter noise deeply impacts the quality of life for many New Yorkers and is simply unacceptable,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The FAA must take needed action to provide relief for Hudson River waterfront communities and give City families a peace of mind.”

“Helicopter noise is a constant nuisance for many people in residential neighborhoods across the City, which is why my colleagues and I are urging the FAA to develop a rational solution,” said Senator Schumer. “Helicopter traffic is an inevitable part of life in New York, but there is no reason pilots can’t travel along more regular over-water pathways that avoid populated areas.”

“Sadly, the airspace above Manhattan and Brooklyn seems more like the Wild West than the airspace above one of the most populated cities in America,” said Representative Nadler, the most senior member from the Northeast on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The FAA should reign in low flying helicopters and those that veer off of approved flight paths. These helicopters are both too noisy and too dangerous.”

“Noise from helicopter flights are an ongoing disturbance for residents of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan,” said Representative Velázquez. “The time is past due for the FAA to move forward in addressing this problem.”

“Between the tolls and the traffic, the last thing Staten Islanders need is another disturbance,” said Representative Grimm. “We are a residential borough and families should be able to enjoy a certain quality of life without the constant interruption from helicopter noise. The FAA must find a way to better enforce existing routes so that helicopters remain over the waterways and not over our homes.”

In recent years, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook neighborhoods have experienced a stream of helicopters taking off and landing at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport for tourism and other commercial flights around New York Harbor. Day and night, residents along the west side of Manhattan, particularly Upper West Siders, have reported helicopters flying low over the Hudson River Park and their homes as they cut across the borough on their way to the Bronx and Long Island, which has been a public disturbance. Red Hook residents complain that tourist helicopters fly south over Valentino Park and near homes before looping west to the Statue of Liberty. Congressional leaders called for a plan to monitor and reduce the amount of noise experienced by Brooklyn and Manhattan residents.

On Staten Island, officials pointed out that in some instances, helicopters are ignoring waterway routes already in place and taking shortcuts that result in flying at low altitudes over homes and residences. The Senators and Congress members called for stricter compliance to the established flight paths and if needed, putting measures in place to monitor and ensure that helicopters are following flight rules.

Senators Gillibrand and Schumer and Representatives Nadler, Velázquez, and Grimm also noted that any action the FAA takes to reduce excessive helicopter noise for New Jersey residents must also address noise concerns for New Yorkers across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Earlier this fall, Senator Robert Menendez and Representative Albio Sires announced an agreement with the FAA to reduce the flight hours and number of helicopters operating out of Paulus Hook Heliport, including restrictions from operating at night and limits to operating only one flight at a time instead of three at a time.

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Gallo,

We are writing regarding concerns that have been brought to our attention from residents living near routes that are heavily used by helicopters on the New York City side of New York Harbor.  It has come to our attention that excessive helicopter noise continues to rise to a level and frequency that negatively affects the quality of life for those living along the Harbor, and we request your assistance in working to address this situation.

It is our understanding that you are working with officials and residents from New Jersey to address similar concerns, and therefore any action that is taken to address excessive helicopter noise for New Jersey residents must also address noise concerns of residents living in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Residents living in Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook neighborhoods have reported to us that they are experiencing a nearly constant barrage from helicopters taking off and landing at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport for tourist flights around New York Harbor.  For instance, residents all along the west side of Manhattan and especially the Upper West Side have reported helicopters constantly flying low over the Hudson River Park and their homes and apartments as they cut across Manhattan on their way to the Bronx and Long Island.  Similarly, residents in Red Hook complain of tourist helicopters flying south over Valentino Park and near homes before looping west to the Statue of Liberty.  On Staten Island, it has come to our attention to that in some instances, helicopters are ignoring established routes over waterways, and instead are taking shortcuts that result in helicopters flying at low altitudes over residential properties. 

It is our belief that these flights must be conducted in a way that is sensitive to the families living in communities along the Harbor.  We would like to work with you and with representatives of the local community to develop a plan to monitor and ultimately reduce the amount of noise experienced by Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island residents.  These are not only tourism helicopters, but other commercial helicopters as well.  To address this issue, we request that you work with the community and industry to ensure that the established waterway routes are adhered to and, if necessary, develop procedures for monitoring these flights paths to ensure compliance.

Thank you for your attention to this issue, and we look forward to working with you to provide relief to our constituents from excessive noise. 





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12 Responses to Helicopter noise to be addressed soon by federal electeds

  1. Lower Manhattan Dweller says:

    This is an issue which needs to be addressed urgently. There was no peace on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day with the hundreds of helicopter tours flying back and forth along the Hudson. On Dec. 24, there were 35 north-bound flights going past Battery Park City between 2 – 3 PM. That’s an average of more than one per minute! The FAA needs to be brought to task here and so does the City of New York. As landlord of the Downtown Manhattan Heliports (DMH) NYC has a lot of say about the hours of operation and the number of takeoffs and landings. The unnecessary air tours should be BANNED beginning with an immediate ban during weekends and federal holidays. The millions of residents living along the flight paths – residential neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island are entitled to some peace and quiet!

  2. Dathan says:

    I agree with “Lower Manhattan Dweller”. Since Christmas Day, the noise has been off the charts. I have a direct view of landings and takeoff from the DMH, and can tell you at time you will see one up/one down – non stop for HOURS on end. Or even 4/5 flights hovering, waiting to land at the heliport. I can only imagine what the people on the ground must think. It’s right out of a war movie. Literally HUNDREDS of flights in and out of the heliport daily, disrupting the lives of thousands who live within earshot. And trust me- that’s a very large field. A complete weekend ban will do wonders, as will restricted hours and EXACTLY how many operators are allowed to land and take off within a given period, Mon-Fri, with VERY limited hours. At least those of us on the ground who actually PAY THE TAXES will be able to plan our lives. It’s doubtful that the DMH actually contributes to the coffers of NYC, since most operators live in New Jersey, and probably pay little or no tax to the City of New York! Not only are we talking about the people who live here, but the huge amount of money that has spent in the past few years to reclaim the Brooklyn Waterfront for people’s enjoyment – complete ruined by HELL i COPTER Insanity. Stop the Madness! Stop the Chop!!!

  3. Benjamin Peikes says:

    The article doesn’t even mention the fact that NYC owns the heliport. They should just shut it down and add zoning laws which make private ones impossible to open. The only thing NY needs helicopters for is police and fire, if that.

  4. R says:

    I live on the water on the Jersey side on a high floor, so I can see this flying circus from above. From 9 am to 7 pm, non-stop flights, just a conveyor belt. At times 6 to 10 helicopters hovering over a small area (mostly affecting the harbor area). Jersey of course getting some of the worst noise, since on our side FAA allows them to fly lower!
    Bloomberg has successfully monetized NYC’s skies for his few rich friends. No rules apply, no regulation. Where is our government? This is an environmental crime, affecting tens of thousands of people *every* day. When is this going to stop? FAA will not stop it, because their mandate is to promote air traffic. If we don’t stop them, FAA will just find ways to cram even *more* tourist in the air, to meet demand!

  5. Delia says:

    Hi Steve,

    Just wanted to let you know that I spoke with an employee at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport yesterday who told me that there are more than 300 flights that take off from there every day. A conservative estimate puts this at about 110,000 flights a year!

    This is downright abusive!

    Also, what about the enormous amount of pollution generated by this traffic? The EPA should have been called in long ago.

    On another note – Happy New Year!

  6. dellajo says:

    I agree with all of the above comments. Living in BPC is like living next to an Air Force Base. But politicians only expend effort on an issue if they think the people who vote for them care about. that issue. So for all those who want the tourist helicopters to stop torturing us, we need to write to each of the politician signatories to the letter to the FAA and thank them. Writing your local politician used to take some effort in the old days, but now it just involves a quick trip to his or her web site. BPCTV could do a great service by listing all of those web sites. But Google works as well.

  7. Sick and tired of the unending helicopter noise says:

    Our elected officials have accomplished absolutely zero in mitigating the tourist helicopter issue since air tours moved to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in 2008 after they were banned from using the East 34th Street and West 30th Street heliports. The time for letters to the FAA and noise studies and the like is over. NJ politicians met with the FAA about this in September and absolutely nothing has been accomplished. It is now time for action.

    These unnecessary helicopter sightseeing tours should be phased out completely beginning with an immediate ban on air tours during weekends and federal holidays, a curfew of 5:00 PM (as opposed to the 7:00 PM that it is now), no more large, very noisy Sikorsky helicopters and no more than one tour in the air at any one time!

    New York City owns the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and has contracted its operation out to Saker Aviation.

    The new mayor should be contacted about this as should Gale Brewer, the new Manhattan Borough President. In addition, I urge anyone concerned about this issue to write or call our local politicians and ask them specifically what they are planning to do to cut back on the amount of noise resulting from incessant helicopter sightseeing tours:

    Senator Chuck Schumer: Max Dworin at Max_Dworin@Schumer.senate.gov., 212-486-4430
    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Jordan Baugh at jordan_baugh@gillibrand.senate.gov, (212) 688-6262
    Congressman Jerrold Nadler: Celine Mizrahi at Celine.Mizrahi@mail.house.gov (212) 367-7350
    State Sen Daniel Squadron: Mary Cooley at Mary@DanielSquadron.org, (212) 298-5565
    Council Member Margaret Chin: Xiaomin Zhao, xzhao@council.nyc.gov, (212) 587-3126

  8. Karen Peters says:

    I live on 83rd between West End Ave and Riverside. On the first beautiful spring day this year, a sunny Sunday, helicopter noise has been disrupting the entire morning. For over four hours now we have been enduring this. 2-3 helicopters per minute passing over our heads!! Unbearable. Who are they? How can we stop it?

  9. Rhonda J. Waggoner says:

    I am ready to take to the streets in protest and participate in a class action lawsuit. Startled out of sleep this morning at 7:45AM by low-flying helicopter(s) crossing Manhattan near 86th Street on the east-west route.

    With cross island traffic of privileged commuters, unrelenting daily tourists’ choppers recklessly banking at 45 degrees and flying too low over land, and redundant news helicopters covering the same flat tire on the FDR, our homes and parks are under constant attack.

    I witnessed another near collision this week between a helicopter turning west below a small plane flying north over the Hudson River, but 311 was not prepared to take that information. I told her if I made a complaint about the helicopters noise we would never get off the phone.

    Please act immediately to stop this insanity and help me organize in protest. I am not too proud to beg. I am desperate.

  10. Adrastos says:

    I too think the tourist helicopters should just be banned. They are completely ruining any quality of live we have left here in Brooklyn & Manhattan. After the last 2 accidents where the Australian tourists dies, they should have been shut down once and for all. Blame Bloomberg for that, he still feels it is safe.

    Spending the day in a beautiful park like Govenors Island becomes a living hell, all around the island are helicopters flying, sometime 7 at a time. Zero tranquality.
    Valentino Park, Columbia Street Waterfront helicopters, constant. Our elected officials have done nothing for us at all. Bloomberg was the worse, he says we need the revenue, but at the taxpayers expense, obviously he had no regards for the residents that pay a lot of money to live near the water.

    Lets see if de Blasio does anything for us. So far any park like setting along the water is simply unbeareable. Hudson river park, another hell. between the low flying airplanes, thank to Nextgen, and the tourist helicoptersd flying all over us, we new yorkers have no peace at all. our once quiet skies have become a constant roar of airtraffic.

    This is unacceptable and needs to be addresses NOW. The FAA does not own the sky, God does, and we as citizens must out a stop to what the FAA has done to us by ruining any quality of life we have.

    NY needs to once and for all ban the tourist helicopters. Mayor Guilianni banned them for quality of life issues, then Bloomberg re-instated them, what nerve.
    lets ban them again.

  11. Wayne Roberts says:

    I add my voice to the citizens of the metro area that have lost the quality of life in there own homes by these marauding parasites.

    I live in Fort Lee, NJ, and they travel along the coastline bringing havoc to anybody living along the cliff. The FAA and the City of New York could not care less about us here on this side of the river. Gallo (Head of the Eastern Region of the FAA) is a tool as far as I can tell.

    Clearly, He grew up on Long Island and doesn’t give a rats ass about people in New Jersey. 600 times a day since they go back and forth ,we are harassed without anywhere or anyway to escape short of moving (of course at lower resale values now due to these parasites). What was a quiet community of homes is now busier then any major airport now that planes, helicopters are now routed right along our coast (move them center of the Hudson at least!!!). The FAA and the Mayor are disgusting pie holes.

  12. Dawn d'Aoust says:

    I live in Crown Heights Brooklyn and they fly to and from the airport on the same path over my house starting at 7:00 AM and then every 10 minutes carrying those so special commuters . They are too low and disrupt my thoughts even with the windows closed.

    There is no need for this assault on us by the wealthy few.

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