Pictured Above: At the entrance to the East Hampton Airport

After ongoing conversations with the Federal Aviation Administration, East Hampton Town has decided to delay the deactivation and opening of a new airport in Wainscott, initially slated for Feb. 28, to May 17, 2022. The new, prior-permission required airport will open on May 19, 2022.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc announced the change in a Feb. 17 press release, citing a request by the FAA that the opening coincide with FAA navigation charting cycles, which occur on 28-day and 56-day schedules.

“The first applicable charting cycle date to occur after the FAA will have all of its internal processes completed for activation of the new private-use airport is May 19, 2022,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc. “By coinciding activation with the FAA’s charting cycle, it will facilitate clearances to and from the new private-use airport by air traffic controllers, allow flight plans to be filed by pilots, and allow the FAA to circulate notices to air missions and other FAA publications related to the new private-use airport.”

FAA Regional Administrator Marie T. Kennington-Gardiner outlined the FAA’s concerns about the speed with which the town is proceeding in a scathing Feb. 2 letter, which was posted on the town’s website.

The letter cautioned that, when the FAA processes the request to deactivate the airport, all public instrument procedures would be unavailable, the town’s agreement with the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), all FAA-operated navigational, weather, and communication aids would be disabled; and Class D airspace would no longer be applicable.

“The town and FAA continue to work cooperatively to complete the deactivation and activation process in a timely and efficient manner, with the shared goal of the town opening a safe private-use airport in the manner that is least disruptive to aviation,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc in the Feb. 17 statement. “Over the past few weeks, the FAA and the town have addressed several unique issues raised by the Town’s desire to retain an airport with enhanced local control, including town ownership of all navigational aids in use at the East Hampton Airport; town control of all communication aids in use at the East Hampton Airport; utilization of a private air traffic control tower at the private-use airport; and a process to facilitate air-to-ground communications at the new private-use airport.”

The town is in the process of drafting the framework it will use to decide which aircraft will be allowed to land at the airport, which “will be discussed and subject to public comment beginning in early March 2022,” according to Mr. Van Scoyoc.

“We are pleased the East Hampton Town Board is starting to listen to commonsense solutions and delayed their plans for the airport to allow for more discussions and alternate solutions,” said Loren Riegelhaupt, spokesperson for the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, in a Feb. 17 statement. “For everyone’s best interests, we ask that all sides stop filing lawsuits and implore the town not to rush ahead with their misguided plans to close the airport. Instead, we suggest that all of the impacted parties come together to find a solution that works for all.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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