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Schumer and Bishop Met Personally With New FAA Administration- Legislators Believe the FAA has the Power to Regulate Helicopter Routes and Altitude

After Years of Deafening Helicopters Buzzing Over LI Neighborhoods, Officials Asked the FAA to Craft First Ever Regulations to Divert Choppers Away from Populated Areas

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop urged Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt, during a personal meeting in Senator Schumer's Washington D.C. office, to direct his agency to craft firstever regulations to curb helicopters that fly low over Long Island communities. For years, Schumer and Bishop have been pushing to crack down on the rogue choppers, that refuse to follow voluntary, noninvasive routes, but told Babbitt today that only way to divert the helicopters away from populated areas once and for all was for the FAA to impose stiff and certain regulation and monitoring. Schumer and Bishop stressed that it is within the FAA's power to craft and impose these regulations. Both legislators' counsels are meeting with the FAA council next week to discuss new regulations.


"These lowflying helicopters have tormented Long Island communities for far too long," Schumer said. "The bottom line is the only entity that can rein the rogue choppers that refuse to fly the voluntary noninvasive routes is the FAA. We appreciate Administrator Babbitt's attention to this critical issue and look forward to working with him to get these new regulations in place as soon as possible."


"Those of us who live in Suffolk County are tired of the roar of helicopters disrupting the serenity of our island," said Bishop, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Although there have been improvements for some communities due to new flight patterns, a significant problem still exists, so it is time for the FAA to take action."


Schumer and Bishop also sent a formal letter detailing their request. A copy of their letter is below:


 Dear Administrator Babbitt:


We write to respectfully request that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulate minimum altitudes and mandatory flight paths for helicopter traffic over parts of Long Island and Staten Island, NY.  Residents in these regions have longcomplained about disruptive noise from lowflying private helicopters, which is particularly burdensome during the summer months.  Despite efforts to implement voluntary practices to alleviate noise from helicopters, Long Island and Staten Island residents continue to be burdened.  We believe that the FAA Administrator has the authority, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 40103 (b) and 14 CFR §91.119, to regulate helicopter minimum altitudes and flight paths, and there is past precedent that demonstrates this ability.  We are confident that action in the form of regulation will bring muchneeded relief to residents.


In September 2007, we convened a meeting with officials from FAA, New York metropolitan area helicopter operators, and airport managers from Nassau and Suffolk Counties, NY to discuss voluntary solutions to eradicate onerous helicopter noise.  The parties to the meeting agreed that a voluntary minimum flight altitude of 2500 feet, combined with a new "North Shore Route" which diverts helicopters over the Long Island Sound, as opposed to land, would help to reduce helicopter noise in residential areas.  Unfortunately the voluntary recommendations are often ignored and residents are all too frequently still subjected to deafening, foundationratting flyovers.


We respectfully ask that you use your powers as Administrator to draft FAA regulations that will set a minimum flying altitude and a mandatory flight path for helicopters over Long Island and Staten Island, and that you do so in time for the 2010 summer season. 


FAA has a past precedent of regulating helicopter minimum altitudes.  14 CFR Part 91 outlines operating rules for airplane and helicopter air tour flights operating under visual flight rules in the State of Hawaii, and sets a minimum flight altitude for these aircraft.  We also understand that helicopter noise mitigation has been an ongoing issue at FAA, and in 1987 the Agency issued an Advisory Circular that states that FAA has, since 1969, considered adopting noise standards for helicopter operations.


Administrator Babbitt, we appreciate that you share my commitment to ensuring the safety of all aircraft operators and passengers, and I understand it will be necessary to make safety the primary consideration of these regulations.


Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.