East Hampton Committee Recommends Airport Curfews, Helicopter Restrictions
East Hampton Airport Planning Committee’s noise subcommittee has recommended a curfew on use of the airport by noisy aircraft, a prohibition on the noisiest types of helicopters during the summer months, and severe restrictions on other helicopters not deemed to be the noisiest types.
The committee’s chairman, David Gruber, presented its recommendations to the town board at a work session Jan. 20. The town’s professional consultants are expected to give a presentation on the third phase of their noise analysis and their proposed regulations at the board’s Feb. 3 work session.
Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who serves as the board’s liasion to the airport, said at the Jan. 20 work session that she expects to have a draft of new regulations ready to be put forward for public hearing soon after the Feb. 3 presentation, in order to put changes in place at the airport before the coming summer season.
As of Jan. 1 of this year, the town is no longer mandated by the FAA to accept all aircraft that wish to use the airport, a condition that was the result of “grant assurances” allowing access to the airport that the town had signed decades ago in order to receive federal grant money for upkeep of the airport.
The subcommittee proposed that the town divide aircraft into three types: quiet, noisy, and noisiest, for the purpose of regulations.
They recommended the noisiest types of aircraft be prohibited from landing at the airport between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m., and that noisy aircraft be prohibited from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day.
They also suggested that the noisiest aircraft (not including helicopters) be prohibited from conducting more than two operations per week and that the noisiest types of helicopters be completely banned from using the airport.
They proposed that, from May 1 through Oct. 31, noisy (but not the noisiest) helicopters be restricted from conducting any operations at the airport from noon on Thursday through noon the following Monday and on both federal holidays and the day before and after each federal holiday, and from conducting more than two operations per week.
Mr. Gruber told the board that the draft recommendations dealt with the three most acute problems listed by the legions of people who have called in airport complaints: helicopters, frequent operations and operations in the evening and early morning.
“The proposed rules will achieve immediate, substantial noise relief, while maintaining sufficient traffic for a self-sustaining airport,” he said. “It also provides an incentive for owners of noisy aircraft to transition to quieter types.”
Mr. Gruber added that most recreational aircraft, for whose use the airport was originally intended, will only be affected by the curfew.
At the Jan. 20 work session, Noyac resident Barry Holden handed the board a petition signed by 700 people asking the town to impose curfews and exclude helicopters from the airport.
“Now that FAA control has lapsed, it’s imperative that we immediately return to the traditional and intended use (of the airport),” he said. “The airport was intended for personal use.”
More information on East Hampton’s noise analysis is online here.