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May 25, 2010 7:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

FAA to impose new regulations for helicopters

Editor's Note: To send your comments on this proposal to the FAA, visit regulations.gov.
May 25, 2010 7:19 PM

Just in time for the rush of Memorial Day weekend helicopter traffic from New York City to the East End, the Federal Aviation Administration announced this week that, for the first time ever, it will impose mandatory regulations to control helicopter noise on Long Island by this summer.

The FAA on Tuesday released the final draft of a proposed mandatory route that helicopters traveling between the New York City area and East End airports, primarily Gabreski Airport in Westhampton and East Hampton Airport, will have to follow.

The route would take choppers over Long Island Sound at least 1 mile offshore and at a height of at least 2,500 feet until they reach the East End. Then they would have to head south, over largely undeveloped tracts of land in Shoreham, before splitting off to either Gabreski or East Hampton. On that last leg, or the first for Manhattan-bound flights, pilots will be expected to adhere to voluntary routes established in 2007.

In 2007, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and representatives of regional commercial helicopter pilots associations and airport operators agreed on voluntary approach and departure routes to East Hampton and Gabreski airports that would keep the choppers over water as much as possible, and at an altitude of 2,500 feet whenever over residential areas. But the departure route from East Hampton Airport they devised still took most outbound choppers over Noyac, and most inbound choppers over parts of Sag Harbor.

It is unclear whether the FAA plans to mandate the voluntary routes, the ones that most affect the East End, at some point.

As a result, local residents and lawmakers warn that the new regulations, which politicians have been seeking for years, might not do much to stem local dissatisfaction with helicopter traffic buzzing through tranquil summer afternoons in the Hamptons.

“Sure, they’re not going to go over the North Shore, but they’re still going to go over Noyac,” said Chuck Neuman, president of the Noyac Civic Council. Noyac has long been plagued by the noise from helicopter traffic at the East Hampton Airport. “I want to ask them: Why is it that Noyac is the one that gets screwed?”

There will be a 30-day public comment period on the new rules before they are made permanent.

“There are some potential positives and some potential negatives,” U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton acknowledged on Tuesday. “The positive is that the FAA has finally acknowledged that they do have the authority to regulate helicopter traffic, something that Senator Schumer and I have been pushing them on for a long time. The potential problem, however, is what they refer to as the transition points—the point where the helicopters turn inland and split toward different airports. For East Enders, that’s the key issue.”

Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine, who convinced the Suffolk County Legislature to adopt a minimum overflight level for the entire county of 1,500 feet in 2007, said that the federal rule needs to address specific travel routes over populated areas.

“I have concerns still, for the entire East End,” said Mr. Romaine, who represents northeastern Brookhaven, the North Fork and Shelter Island. “The 2,500-foot height will be good, but we have to make sure we don’t end up with all the helicopters flying over the same areas, because whoever is living beneath has to put up with that.”

Mr. Romaine and Mr. Bishop said they will push for the final rule to include a scheduled variation to the approach and departure routes to the airports, so as to spread out helicopter traffic.

Mr. Bishop suggested that the FAA might also be asked to suggest requiring helicopters bound for East Hampton to stay over the water until they were past Orient Point and then follow Gardiners Bay and Shelter Island Sound back south and west until they were as close as possible to the airport.

Mr. Romaine said the FAA has been reluctant to use a route that takes helicopters south from New York City and brings them east over the Atlantic. Such a route would allow copters bound for East Hampton to cut in close to the airport over Georgica Pond, with only a half-mile hop over residential areas.

Jim Brundige, the East Hampton Airport manager, said the Georgica route has been shown to have the least impact on residences, since the sound of the helicopters is dampened by sea breezes and the roar of the ocean surf. He added that he doesn’t expect that codifying the voluntary routes now used will have much impact on residents living downrange of East Hampton Airport.

“Nothing they’ve done really addresses our particular airport,” Mr. Brundige said. “The routes are voluntary now, but most of the pilots use it. Frankly, I would be shocked if they mandated the specific routes into my airport. It would open them up to all kinds of other problems.”

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The entry point is North Sea around Bay View Oaks and Whalebone Landing, and Glen View and North Side Hills which is unacceptable. Many homes are going to be overflown when fewer homes would be impacted if they used an ocean route and flew in from Georgica Pond. The people of North Sea, Noyac and Sag Harbor are in the flight path. Contact Sentator Schumer and let him know that this is unacceptable to us.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:43 PM
The entry point is North Sea around Bay View Oaks and Whalebone Landing, and Glen View and North Side Hills which is unacceptable. Many homes are going to be overflown when fewer homes would be impacted if they used an ocean route and flew in from Georgica Pond. The people of North Sea, Noyac and Sag Harbor are in the flight path. Contact Sentator Schumer and let him know that this is unacceptable to us.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on May 22, 10 1:43 PM
Guess we all have our problems... BUT the present voluntary approach, departure and minimum altitude is pure "Poppy-Cock"! Enforcing something that does not work is pure political grandstanding in a mid-term election year! Here in Mattituck the helicopter rotators are in full pitch and they fly directly over my home or just north/south of it and make a tremendous amount of noise. They need to fly at 4500+ feet and if the weather is such that they can't they should not fly! The volunteer rules ...more
By CapnJB (4), Mattituck on May 23, 10 1:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
They hit you they fly over us on the way in. Glad you understand the problem and point out some valid issues. No of which would be present if they flew the Atlantic Route... This present route needs to be changed
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on May 23, 10 7:07 AM
The Atlantic route makes the most sense. Why should they be able to endanger people by flying over homes. At least if the heli goes down in the ocean it is just those on board who will be the victims and not some one who did chose to assume the risk they do by flying in the heli.

I have seen them fly well below 1000' It is all I can do at that point to keep from driving to the helipad to tell the pilot what I think of his disregard for peoples right to peace and quite on their properties.
May 23, 10 2:25 PM appended by ICE
some one who did not chose
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 23, 10 2:25 PM
This is an important first step for the FAA to recognize that there is a problem, and that its regulation is required. As the comments above suggest, this initial regulation will concentrate the helicopter traffic coming in to East Hampton airport, and will thus likely result in MORE noise for certain neighborhoods.

Hopefully, additional approved flight paths can be added, including south of LI with various approaches also to be added.

Now is the time for all good citizens to come ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 23, 10 3:21 PM
I will comment now "Thank God" and good riddance
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on May 23, 10 7:47 PM
Oh and the Georgia pond thing is not going to sit well with Mr Spielberg, Martha Stewart , Russell Simmons , Jerry Della Famina, Miss Ross and the rest of the crew.....It will (pardon the pun) never fly.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on May 23, 10 7:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
Della Famina? Is that wind bag still around? I thought he swore to leave the country if health care passed!
By zaz (197), East Hampton on May 23, 10 11:26 PM
You're right zaz, Jerry said he'd leave, but no such luck. The man is still around cluttering up the media.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 24, 10 11:01 AM
..oh and in case you didn't know it - his restaurant in EH is really not good at all -avoid it
By zaz (197), East Hampton on May 25, 10 8:48 PM
Didnt Paltrow and Baldwin "PROMISE" to leave? Better them than Della Famina, at least he can make us laugh with his articles.
By LongIslander (43), HAMPTON BAYS on Jun 1, 10 10:10 AM
The Atlantic route doesn't work because it interferes with air traffic from LGA and ISP.
By phins (43), East Hampton on May 24, 10 11:35 AM
It interferes with LGA? I would JFK because LGA is on the north shore of the island.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 24, 10 1:52 PM
Anyone have a map of the new route? I heard it runs over the southerly tip of Gardner's Island. That would bring it just over Roses Grove Road, if you were to travel in a straight line to the airport.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on May 24, 10 3:00 PM
Yes, Jane Q - we need an accurate map - anybody have any sources?
By sunshine (47), southampton on May 24, 10 3:34 PM
The Atlantic route works fine as the air traffic have ways to fly around and through controlled airspace. The few people who live on Georgica Pond are citizens just like us and the route is entirely over the water and not theire houses like it is in North Sea. The other option is Barcelona Point. Della Femina wouldnt be bothered as he lives further east on the ocean. Regardless this has the fewest homes of any flight path which is what the ruling is supposed to be.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on May 25, 10 6:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
True. The few people who would be affected in the Georgica Pond area are probably there a lot less often then the rest of us are anyway. Most likely some of them actually use Heli service as well.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 25, 10 3:35 PM
North Sea, I think you'll get a good hearing if you take this case to Tim Bishop's office. Senator Schumer has been getting most of the ink on this matter (as he usually does), but the Congressman has worked on it, too. More importantly, the issue arises in Mr. Bishop's district and Mr. Bishop faces the voters -- you included -- in November. I believe he'll do everything he can to help.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on May 25, 10 2:59 PM
Over the Long Pond Greenbelt and the houses surrounding it every 5 minutes on Friday evenings and every 10 minutes all day sunday were low flying helecoptors a couple years back. I don't imagine it's changed much, hopefully it will now.
By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on May 26, 10 8:16 PM
Turkey Bridge et al. I have already elevated it up to thepowers that be and they are activey working on it. Apparently the route added takes the helo's east around Orient point then they turn in, however when I went down to the beach last night you could see them flying outbound over Noyac/North Sea heading home undeer the path as indicated in last Saturdays Newsday. The helo's need to go out over Georgica or barcelona Point where there are the fewest houses. Its fantastic that our federal represetatives ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on May 28, 10 6:47 AM
Well as more details surface... the more grim it gets for the North Fork... reading above transiting LI at Shoreham... who are they kidding? This will put the choppers back in the same place more or less that they are now which is unacceptable. Schumer and Bishop need to wake up... Transiting either fork or traveling over the Peconic Bays are unacceptable period! 2500' is not high enough either. Only two routes are acceptable to us on the forks... One that route over mid Long Island Sound and ...more
By CapnJB (4), Mattituck on May 31, 10 12:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Today is Memorial Day, and from 4:17 pm to 4:22 pm, six helicopters and one lite plane flew over my property, and way under the height limit of 2500 ft.

Reading all the comments, I think there are many voting residents who live here permanently that can make a powerful case for the Atlantic route. It just makes sense - resulting in the least impact, and least noise. All other routes, pose more danger to homeowners and wildlife (ie the northwest sanctuaries). We need to send letters ...more
By East Hampton Voter (1), East Hampton on May 31, 10 7:32 PM
Well the long weekend is coming to an end... we will still have to put the racket tomorrow morning for those rushing back to the office Tuesday to get to work... This afternoon is was a steady "shuttle" directly over my home on the north fork... some may have been at 2500' many were not.

Back to the point... Airspace and control is a federal issue FAA... ultimately they are the ones that govern and as noted by the manager of the East Hampton Airport he does not think they will make a mandate. ...more
By CapnJB (4), Mattituck on May 31, 10 11:56 PM
No route following here in North Sea. There were many many overflights and some very low of helicopters even one at 3:30 am Saturday that shook the house. The routing needs to be mandatory and over the Atlantic as you cant excpect them to follow the rules. Perhaps if the helo pilots fopund the ones who are the most trouble and had a conversation with them they wouldnt ave had restrictions in the first place
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jun 1, 10 6:25 AM
Not trying to be a wise ass... but how do you get over the Atlantic from Westchester? You don't without crossing over Long Island someplace. There needs to be 2 flight paths... one over the Atlantic and one mid Long Island Sound... and don't forget ALTITUDE... that has more effect than anything. Problem is they (the helo pilots/owners) want the utmost flexibility so they can stay out of the ATC and keep time in the air to a minimum (cost). With close proximity of ISP, JFK, HVN, LGA, GON, EWR, ...more
By CapnJB (4), Mattituck on Jun 3, 10 12:25 AM

Thank you for the information. I live in North Haven near the ferry. I moved there from Sagaponack primarily because we were in the flight
path of incoming and outgoing flights depending on the wind. I moved about as far away from the East Hampton Airport as was possible and I am quite certain that North Haven and Sag Harbor are not next to the airport. Now I am directly under the path of incoming helicopters who destroy Friday afternoons and evenings. I don't get it-is it purely greed ...more
By Havenite (1), North Haven on Jun 1, 10 3:43 PM