FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2007
Schumer Announces He Will Hold First Ever Meeting Aimed at Reducing Helicopter Noise Plaguing Long Island Communities on Monday in His Office
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced he will convene the first ever meeting with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, major Long Island and New York City helicopter operators, and airport managers from Nassau and Suffolk in order to craft solutions designed to reduce helicopter noise plaguing countless communities across Nassau and Suffolk counties. This summer was one of the worst summers ever with thousands of private helicopters buzzing over neighborhoods and schools, most of them originating from New York City on their way to the East End. Schumer, who has authored federal legislation requiring the FAA to study the problem and make recommendations aimed at reducing the noise, said the concerns of Long Island families will finally be heard.
“Noise from low-flying helicopters has been left to roar unabated for far too long. Now is the time to act. I am not holding this meeting to point fingers, but instead finally put our noses to the grindstone and get something done. Long Island residents have put up with annoying and disruptive helicopter noise for long enough.”
Schumer said that for nearly a decade the number of helicopters that fly over Long Island hamlets and villages has skyrocketed causing concern among many neighborhoods for their families’ safety and livelihood. Most residents didn’t know when they purchased their homes that these helicopters would fly so close to their communities.
Many of these flights are from New York City out to the East End of the Island and are for recreational or commercial purposes during the summer months. While these helicopters have become an unfortunate irritant during the summer, they are also a constant presence throughout the entire year. Although most operators use voluntary routes designed to reduce the noise impact by avoiding noise sensitive areas, many helicopters are still flying over residential neighborhoods. These flights impact communities in countless ways, not the least of which is disruption of daily life, forcing people to stay inside during the summer, and reducing property values in impacted areas.
Helicopters have no minimum altitude requirements when en route, although they must maintain safe clearance from obstructions on the ground. In areas where airspace is congested, especially near commercial airports, the FAA does have some specified routes and altitude requirements designed to keep larger aircraft and helicopters at a safe distance. Helicopter pilots must comply with these prescribed routes or altitudes in certain areas directed by air traffic controllers.
Helicopter noise has become more than a nuisance to Long Islanders in the summer when traffic to and from the Hamptons is markedly higher than during other seasons. Affecting residents in all parts of Long Island, the North Shore bears the brunt of it. This is particularly true in Smithtown and a number of other areas in Suffolk County spanning from Greenlawn in the west to Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, Mount Sinai, Centereach, and East End communities like Southampton, North Haven, East Hampton, and Mattituck. Nassau County is also afflicted with a high volume of helicopter traffic in areas such as Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Elmont, and Manhasset.
This summer (May-August), Gabreski Airport saw 1,948 helicopter operations compared to 1,416 during the same period last year, an increase of 35.7%. East Hampton saw helicopter flights increase 15 percent this summer.
Schumer’s office has received at least 75 calls this year from constituents as well as call from elected officials reporting hundreds of calls their offices have received. Last year, East Hampton Airport received 4,000 complaint calls, of which, 3000 were for helicopter noise. Gabreski has sent out 79 letters to helicopter companies asking their cooperation with the airport’s voluntary noise abatement procedures.
The meeting will be held Monday at 11:00am at Schumer’s Long Island regional office in Mellville. The following are the expected attendees:
· Hon. Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator
· Terry Dennison, US Helicopter
· Patrick Day, Liberty Helicopter
· Robert Grotell and David Nuss, Eastern Region Helicopter Association
· David York, Helicopter Association International
· Frank Lazzarini, Heli Flite Shares Pilot
· John Agor, AAG – division of Sikorsky
· Leo Prusak, FAA District Manager at LGA
· Dianne Crean, FAA Regional Executive Manager
· Joe Foresto, FAA Safety Team Manager
· Jim Brundige, East Hampton Airport Manager
· Tony Ceglio, Gabreski Airport Manager