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No Cheerleaders for Choppers

Posted on 20 August 2010

The noise of Hamptons helicopters overhead continues unabated. The choppers that run between Manhattan and the Hamptons still are flying low and loud. And now the Federal Aviation Administration, which earlier this year said, at long last, it would impose rules to try to reduce the racket made by the Hamptons helicopters says it will delay that for an unknown number of months. It says it needs to study further the 1,000 public comments it received.

The reaction last week to the FAA move was strong. “The FAA has failed in its duty to protect the public,” declared Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine.

State Assemblyman Marc Alessi, at a press conference interrupted multiple times by chopper noise, announced the creation of a website——where information can be submitted on noisy chopper flights.

And Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty questioned the FAA’s concern for noise-tormented Long Islanders. “I don’t have a high degree of confidence,” he said. “They seem to be very sympathetic to the pilots and their concerns.”

That’s at the crux of the issue. In 1968 Congress “vested in FAA’s administrator the power to prescribe aircraft noise standards,” acknowledges the FAA’s website. In 1976, it issued an “Aviation Noise Abatement Policy” which stated: “The federal government has the authority and responsibility to control aircraft noise by the regulation of source emissions, by flight operational procedures, and by management of the air traffic control system and navigable airspace in ways that minimize noise impact on residential areas.”

But the FAA is chartered to both promote and regulate aviation. This conflict is emphasized by those who have tried to deal with the FAA on noise. As the Vermont-based Noise Pollution Clearinghouse declares on its website ( “The FAA makes no secret of its role as aviation cheerleader.” It notes an FAA publication “with the headline, ‘Two Years of Traffic Growth and Profits Too!’” The FAA is “out of balance” when it comes to noise, says the organization.

The “logical solution,” it says, is “dividing FAA’s roles between more appropriate entities. The FAA should remain the regulator of passenger and aircraft safety. The EPA should be the regulator of environmental quality…The multi-billion dollar airline industry should be the cheerleader of aviation. And local communities should control development of local airports.”

Long Island, as the Hamptons helicopter racket unfortunately continues, can play a part in the needed break-up of the FAA—as it did earlier with another federal agency, the Atomic Energy Commission.

In the early 1970s, testifying at and observing AEC hearings on licensing construction of the Shoreham nuclear plant, Congressman Lester Wolff of Kensington was irate at what he saw: an atomic kangaroo court. The AEC was foremost a nuclear cheerleader, Mr. Wolff concluded. He became a leader in the fight that succeeded in 1975 to abolish the AEC and establish in its place a Nuclear Regulatory Commission and have another government entity, now the Department of Energy, take a promotional role.

In the months ahead, as Long Islanders continue the battle against the noisy Hamptons helicopters and prod the FAA to take firm action, there should be an associated effort: to break up the FAA. This might also help spur the FAA to do what is needed.

As Legislator Romaine again called for last week, the Hamptons choppers “must fly no less than a mile off the north shore” and at a “minimum altitude of 3,000 feet.” They must be “prohibited from traversing land except in designated sparsely populated areas.” And choppers “bound for the East Hampton Airport”—the main landing and take-off point for the Hamptons helicopters—“must fly around Orient Point.”

Further, said Mr. Romaine, “the FAA must open up” Kennedy Airport airspace so that the helicopters “can more easily access the south shore route,” cruising over the ocean and making the short hop over Georgica Pond to and from the East Hampton field.

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8 Responses to “No Cheerleaders for Choppers”

  1. Frank Vento says:

    As a long time resident of Port Jefferson Sta. NY I have been annoyed be low flying copters. We all know that the FAA has not been doing there job for a long time. The people who take these copters are the people with the money and the influence to have things done there way. But we will put pressure on the FAA to do there job.

  2. Martin Weiss says:

    Proper English would require “their” in place of “there” on not one, but two of your pronoun choices. And as to your comment about “rich” people flying those noisy helicopters, God forbid a medivac helicopter coming to your rescue being banned from airspace above your trailer park because of noise complaints from your neighbors…

  3. Lee Ensminger says:

    Martin, I agree that proper usage is important. So is the ability to count. There were three instances of the incorrect use of “there,” not two. You also missed his use of “be” when he obviously meant “by.” You were probably busy counting your money. Cheap shot? I think the trailer park reference was a little cheap as well. And I would be surprised if these are medevac [I'll let the "medivac" slide, although it is the lesser used spelling] helicopters he’s complaining about.

  4. James says:

    To everyone complaining could you please provide to me the proof that you were forced to buy/lease/rent your properties in line of the helicopter noise. Are you people just frustrated with your own lives and you just have to complain about something in your sad, pathetic lives? You people are not pilots and obviously DO NOT have a clue as to the operations of any kind of aircraft. All of you complaining do yourself a favor including your local terrorist politian that you are paying off and move far away, preferably to different country because we (pilots) do not want you here. As Martin states above, I hope that one of you complaining needs a medical helicopter. I would not take that call. Let you suffer, then die a miserable death just like the miserable life that you chose to live before!!

  5. tigerpilot says:

    The helicopter pilots voluntarily fly away from housing when they can. They don’t want to cause noise issues-regardless of what some people may think. Weather will have an effect on an available flight path and reroutes have to be made to avoid non-visual flying conditions when they exist.
    The problem is loud mouth politicians like Schumer and Alessi who have never met a TV camera they didn’t like. Their ability to do damage and create hardship is without equal in the modern world. They have no idea what is possible.
    If every community had a say in airspace issues planes would never get off the ground. That’s why the FAA has been tasked to regulate air commerce.
    If you really can’t stand the occasional noise there is a large no fly zone over in China. You might want to consider moving there.

  6. Solus says:

    For years helicopters approaching and departing East Hampton Airport flew the “power line” route over high tension wires where there were no homes and very few complaints. More recently with the major spike in Hamptons land values, people looking for a bargain price bought land under and adjacent to the power lines and began to complain as loud as helicopters about the noise even though their deeds contained express acknowledgments of their proximity to the airport and its unconcealed noise which, in many cases, is less than a passing train or a neighbor’s lawnmower. Instead of correlating the lower price to the noise disadvantage, the pattern was changed to bring the noise to those who paid a premium to avoid it and, surprise, surprise, complaints, more justifiable, increased. Airport opponents, asserting noise concerns and soliciting many of the noise complaints to mask their personal financial and real estate agenda, have misguidedly prevented the Town from adopting an Airport Master Plan which would permit the adoption of more effective regulation and procedures

    The airport provides 60 jobs, generates $1/2Million for the tax weary and complaining East Hampton residents, and according to the NYS Dept of Transportation generates more than $15Million in secondary revenues for the east end of Long Island not to mention the Medevac, emergency services and other benefits to the community.

    Yes! mitigate helicopter noise, but let’s put things in context.

  7. Privatcam says:

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  8. What is a private jet’s insurance price? and maintenance costs? Averagely.?

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