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FAA’s Long Island Mandatory Noise Route Under Scrutiny

Mica, Petri Charge FAA With Bowing To Political Pressure

The chairs of the House Transportation Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee have written a letter to the FAA expressing concerns about the establishment of the Long Island North Shore Route rule, and urging the agency to give the matter additional thought.

The rule forces helicopters operating along the north shore of Long Island to fly a route that is almost entirely over water. Certain exceptions are allowed if the pilot feels the route puts passengers or the aircraft in danger.

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) (pictured, left), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, and Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI) (pictured, right), chair of the aviation subcommittee, sent the letter to acting FAA administrator Michael Huerta questioning the implementation of the rule. “We are concerned when it appears the FAA may have made a decision motivated solely by outside pressures, including political ones.”

HAI president Matt Zuccaro said in an article posted on the association's website that "the FAA failed to indicate any safety need or efficient use of airspace in justifying the need for the rule or its statutory authority to regulate flight paths based solely on unsubstantiated noise complaints. The agency did note in its Notice for Proposed Rulemaking that the rule was being promulgated at the request of Senator (Charles) Schumer (D) of New York who had received noise complaints from some of his constituents. Furthermore, the FAA itself said in its Aviation Environmental and Energy Policy Statement issued in late July that this type of non–airport-based noise restriction would require additional research. Accordingly we think it is only appropriate to see Congress exercising its oversight authority."

Senator Schumer had offered the rule as an amendment to the FAA Modernization and Reform act during conference committee negotiations, and it was defeated by a majority of the conferees. Mica and Petri said in the letter that the rule may run counter to procedural, safety, and economic concerns. They said the FAA is required to consider whether "a proposed aircraft noise rule is consistent with the highest degree of safety in air commerce and air transportation, economically reasonable, technologically practicable and appropriate for the particular type of aircraft.” They say the appearance of the rule raises questions about whether the agency adequately considered those safety issues.

The committee chairs also say the rule runs counter to executive order 13563, issued by President Obama. That order directs federal agencies to consider alternatives to direct regulation and to adopt a regulation only upon a reasonable determination that its benefits justify its costs. Mica and Petri said that it would seem that the FAA disregarded the ongoing work done by the helicopter community and local leaders to address the noise concerns. They say in the letter that implementation of the rule may not reduce noise complaints.

FMI: http://mica.house.gov, http://petri.house.gov. www.rotor.com

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