Photo credit: Rusty Blazenhoff licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

In her opinion piece in the New York Daily News, New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer tells us how often she hears from Manhattanites who are constantly being exposed to helicopter noise. Tourists and wealthy travelers, she says, enjoy traveling by helicopter over Manhattan, but the residents on the ground have to suffer from the constant noise above their heads. Yet, as Brewer’s piece notes, New York City has limited ability to regulate its own airspace and cannot restrict flights from out of state.

The Federal Aviation Administration has the authority over aircraft noise, and Brewer believes the FAA could step in with regard to helicopter noise in New York City as it has in other areas. To add to the problem, chartered helicopters which may be flying inappropriately cannot even be identified because they can block their tail numbers.

New York City, with its limited authority regarding helicopter flights, was permitted in 2016 to restrict flights on Sundays and to reduce flights on the other days. Also, flights originating in New York City are only allowed to fly over the river. Now Brewer has introduced legislation to restrict helicopters from flying over if they exceed certain noise levels.

Brewer informs us that legislation is being introduced by three New York City representatives, Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, to prohibit nonessential flights for cities with huge populations and high density. This would include New York City.

At the state level, Senator Brad Holyman has introduced a bill that would:

  • Allow people exposed to helicopter noise to sue;
  • Amend an act that will allow the City to close the W. 30th heliport; and
  • Amend the city charter so that the City could limit non-essential helicopter operations.

Brewer believes this bill should pass.

While New York City residents suffering all these years from helicopter noise owe a huge thanks to its local, state, and federal representatives for all their actions to limit non-essential helicopter noise, I would also add thanks to Andrew Rosenthal, Melissa Elstein, Adrian Benepe and the rest of the Stop the Chop NY/NJ Board for all their effort and hard work to ban nonessential helicopters in New York and New Jersey.