Summer Helicopter Traffic Prompts Complaints On Noise From Low
Eastern Suffolk county on Long Island is considered by many to
be a quiet summer haven for many living around New York City, but
with summer residents comes the noise of the helicopters shuttling
them back and forth to the city.
According to an article in the Suffolk Times, Local, state and
federal officials report they've been getting an earful from
constituents in the region about helicopter noise despite an
agreement brokered during the winter by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer
(D-NY) with the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and local
airports. The agreement was aimed at alleviating the helicopter
traffic noise problem on the ground in eastern Suffolk.
According to a Tuesday press release from the offices of Mr.
Schumer, approximately 1,500 complaints were filed at East Hampton
Airport from Memorial Day through the second week of June, with as
many as 300 to 400 of those complaints issued from unique
Schumer said the summer was "off to a rocky start" with most of
the complaints coming from North Shore. Only half of the helicopter
flights into East Hampton airport are complying with the minimum
altitude requirements agreed to by the helicopter council.
Officials say most of the helicopter traffic over the North Fork is
headed to or from the East Hampton Airport.
According to Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, the North Fork
helicopters association has been gathering data using
altitude-monitoring equipment. Helicopters over the North Fork
inbound to East Hampton Airport are regularly flying over land at
altitudes of 900 to 1,100 feet, he said.
Russell is seeking FAA regulation of helicopters in the
area and even threatened legal action by the town. "We have to
consider all our options," he said in an interview Tuesday.
Failing voluntary compliance with flight path and minimum
altitude guidelines agreed to by the helicopter council, Mr.
Schumer pledges to introduce legislation requiring the FAA to
impose mandatory routes, altitude floors, and stiff fines for any
helicopter that violates the rules.
Rep. Tim Bishop is "thoroughly discouraged" by pilots' lack of
compliance with the voluntary agreement with the helicopter council
and sees the need for FAA regulation as almost inevitable at this
Bishop said the House version of the FAA reauthorization bill
charges the FAA with the task of studying helicopter traffic all
over Long Island and suggest noise mitigation strategies. "You
can't get FAA regulation without first doing this study," he
Proposed state legislation requiring the state department of
transportation to conduct a similar helicopter traffic study passed
in the state assembly, but stalled in the state senate as the move
lacked a sponsor. The bill was seen as pointless as the state has
no authority over air traffic, which is controlled at a federal
"There really is no state role," said NY State Sen. Ken LaValle,
whose district encompasses both the North and South forks,
explaining why he would not sponsor the bill. "It only leads people
to believe that we can do something when we can't."
On the federal side, both Schumer and Bishop have scheduled
meetings over the coming weeks with representatives of the
helicopter council as a last hope to bolster the voluntary
compliance effort before moving forward with the push for FAA