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Jun 5, 2012 11:17 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Regional Helicopter Group Opposes FAA-Mandated North Shore Flight Route

Jun 5, 2012 6:07 PM

A regional helicopter advocacy group is calling on Long Island residents to oppose a federal regulation in the works mandating that helicopters fly a designated North Shore route.

The Eastern Region Helicopter Council on Monday issued a statement in anticipation of the new Federal Aviation Administration regulation, claiming the mandate would “exacerbate air traffic congestion and make helicopter noise permanent over some communities.”

In the meantime, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said this week that the town expects to have a new air traffic control tower in place at East Hampton Airport by the end of the week. Town officials expect the tower will reduce the number of noise complaints from people living near the airport,

“We are again calling on the FAA to reverse course and do what is right and best for Long Islanders by eliminating the proposed restricted flight paths that increase noise and instead returning to a more diversified and rational plan,” said Jeff Smith, the chairman of the council, in the statement. “Instead of concentrating flights over small areas and compounding noise over certain communities, we must diversify helicopter flight routes over land and Long Island Sound. This will not only ensure maximum safety but also decrease noise levels in the Great Neck, Port Washington and Glen Cove areas in particular.”

The FAA mandated route, which was first announced by New York State Senator Charles Schumer’s office in February, would require helicopters to take an over-the-water North Shore route to get to places like East Hampton Airport. In the same announcement at the time, Mr. Schumer said the FAA would begin work on establishing mandatory over-the-water routes along the South Shore.

The establishment of a North Shore route and a commitment to creating a South Shore route are responses to concerns of helicopter noise throughout Long Island, and in particular in East Hampton. It’s an approach at mitigating noise that was endorsed by the Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Advisory Committee, a group comprised of East End elected officials, according to Mr. Stanzione, who has spearheaded airport issues.

“We strongly support both routes,” said Mr. Stanzione on Monday. “I think it’s important that we have both routes because we are committed to reducing the obligation of our northern communities from exclusively being burdened by the traffic pattern. It’s really important for us to advocate a fair share approach for aviation traffic in our community.”

Also in an effort to control noise, Mr. Stanzione said the town is in the process of constructing a highly-anticipated air traffic control tower at the East Hampton Airport. The tower is expected to be up and running by the end of the week, Mr. Stanzione said on Monday.

Once established, the air traffic control tower, which will be staffed by two to three FAA-authorized employees, will be able to monitor traffic patterns within a five-mile radius of the airport from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., said Mr. Stanzione.

On Monday morning at around 7 a.m., Kathy Cunningham, a resident of East Hampton, said she documented about four helicopters landing at the airport within a 20-minute interval. She described the experience as feeling like “you’re under attack.”

“The ones I’m writing down are literally the ones that are shaking my house,” said Ms. Cunningham, the chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition, a local group dedicated to controlling noise at the airport. “It’s not every single flight.”

Ms. Cunningham, who says she is optimistic about the FAA routes and the air traffic control tower, questions how much impact either will actually have on reducing noise. She noted that an air traffic controller cannot limit the number of flights or access to the airport. The best noise mitigation tool, she said, is to “meaningfully limit access to the airport.”

“All this does is channel the traffic over prescribed areas and this does not prohibit landings 11 at night and 7 in the morning,” said Ms. Cunningham.

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The Eastern Region Helicopter Council, and all chopper pilots for that matter, may be a little late to this party?

They have been assaulting the EH airport for years with indiscriminate low-level incoming attacks and departures.

The time for a meaningful discussion, and adjustment to flight plans, has been available for years.

And now you want to complain about the new FAA proposed regulations?

Where were you when we needed you (and you needed us!)?

"When ...more
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Jun 5, 12 4:03 PM
The "control tower" will only redistribute the noise. Some will get relief, some will suffer more. Real tranquility will return once local control is wrested from the FAA/Washington axis and limitations on aircraft activity can be imposed. Taking FAA money is accompanied with fealty to FAA regulations for 20 years making any local control impossible. That is the law.

Helicopters are the worst in showering inhabitants with noise. The helicopter group should stop whining and recognize they ...more
By stephen11962 (2), sagaponack on Jun 6, 12 9:21 AM