Bishop Promises Defense for Noyacans Versus Helicopters

Posted on 16 September 2010

By Bryan Boyhan

After another summer season enduring helicopter traffic over their homes, Noyac residents wanted to know how the government was doing to make their lives more bearable. So when Congressman Tim Bishop visited the Noyac Civic Council Monday night, they were ready.

“You want to hear about helicopters,” Bishop surmised as he started speaking on the lawn in front of the Bridgehampton National Bank’s community room, while the audience of about 30 NCC members waited for the door to be unlocked.

For years residents of Noyac, Sag Harbor and North Sea have complained that helicopter traffic to and from the East Hampton airport has disrupted their lives, rattling windows and interrupting outdoor conversations. Prodded by complaints, elected officials have lobbied authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration to take action to control the traffic.

“We actually had to show that the FAA has the authority to regulate helicopter traffic,” said Bishop. “They didn’t want to.”

“We tried to get pilots to comply with voluntary routing, but we couldn’t get enough pilots to agree,” said Bishop. “But I feel the routes were flawed; they only went over certain areas.”

A proposed route that takes copters out over Long Island Sound, but allows them to cross over the Pine Barrens, still has the traffic move over residential areas on both the north and south forks.

“We’ll be issuing proposals for routes, but I don’t believe what has been proposed works. It works for Nassau County and the western part of Suffolk, but it doesn’t work for Eastern Long Island,” said Bishop.

The proposal Bishop and other local officials are suggesting is two-pronged, with a northern route and a southern route. The northern route keeps eastbound helicopters out over Long Island Sound until they reach Orient Point, where they would then turn back to approach the airport over Northwest and Barcelona Neck.

A southern route is designed to take some pressure off the northern route by having helicopters travel out over the ocean until they reach Georgica, at which point they would turn north to the airport. At all times they would be required to maintain a minimum altitude while traveling over residential areas. As proposed, that altitude is 2,500 feet, but Bishop said they were pushing for 3,000 feet.

Bishop conceded, however, that the southern route has its complications, particularly concerns that flights out of Teterboro Airport and Manhattan would interfere with Kennedy Airport airspace.

To date, the FAA has received over 1,000 comments about the proposed route.

“Hopefully their decision will reflect the comments from myself and other East End officials, like [Southampton Town Councilwoman] Bridget Fleming and [State Assemblyman] Fred Thiele,” said Bishop. “I want to make sure the regulations are going to solve the problems here.”

Some residents were concerned that, even if the new routes and height regulations were adopted, enforcement would be an issue. East Hampton Airport is presently an unregulated airport, with no controller communicating with aircraft.

“There is talk about a manned tower, which would then be regulated,” said the congressman. “Anytime an air traffic controller gives an instruction to a pilot, they must adhere to it.”

Indeed, on September 2, East Hampton Town adopted an update to their Airport Master Plan which, among other things, recommends the installation of a seasonal air traffic control tower, located in a portable building on the airport grounds. The revisions call for a “no growth policy,” meaning expansion of the airport facilities will be limited. They also call for re-opening runway 4-22 and converting runway 16-32 to a taxi way. The primary runway, 10-28, will not be changed.

The master plan and a layout for the airport will now be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval. If approved, the town will then be able to apply for controlled airspace around the airport enabling the town to hire a seasonal air traffic controller to direct landings and takeoffs.

And if the FAA chooses to ignore the comments from East Enders?

“Then it’s going to be me, Schumer and Gillibrand going after them,” said Bishop.

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3 Responses to “Bishop Promises Defense for Noyacans Versus Helicopters”

  1. bill baily says:

    I can’t believe with all that is wrong and unjust in this world that this is really an issue. I am ashamed of the petty nonsense that some people will consume themselfs with. Perhaps if these control freaks were doing something meaningful with their lives they wouldn’t have time to notice a little sound from air traffic once and a while. I hope our politicians don’t take up this effort at the expense of real problems. GET A LIFE PLEASE!!!

  2. armondo says:

    I am also in disbelief. I think half these knuckleheads are transplants from places that could no longer stand their constant complaining. It’s too cloudy. It’s too sunny. there is a plane flying across my sky. In the Hamptons they have found a home along side of people who go to the emergency room for a broken finger nail. Let us choose our issues with a better capacity for sound judgment and take up causes that are really important. I don’t think noise from planes or copters is their real problem. I think the noise and static is really an echo in their empty heads.

  3. GC says:

    Bill and Armondo, do you live in Noyac? Have you experienced it?

    I live year-round in Noyac and I can tell you that on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays in Summer I have choppers buzzing my house every 2 or 3 minutes. When I’m on the deck with my family we have to shout to hear each other. All this for the convenience of Wall Street fatcats flying to their second and third homes in East Hampton. Of course, they don’t fly over their own suburbs!

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