FAA Agrees to Extend North Shore Helicopter Rules

Helicopter, moon
Helicopter, moon

The current FAA rule that requires helicopters to travel one mile off shore at a height of at least 2,500 feet over the north shore of Long Island has been extended for two years.

Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop announced Friday that the rule, expected to expire August 6, would now continue until the summer of 2016.

Helicopters traveling over the North Shore of Long Island have been required for the past two years to follow this route, except when on their final approach to an airport, along the North Shore between Huntington and Riverhead.

Senator Schumer and Mr. Bishop said Friday that they are continuing to push for the regulation be expanded to require helicopters to go past Orient Point and Shelter Island when landing at South Fork airports. While the new rule has helped reduce helicopter noise along the western part of the North Shore, the North Fork has continued to be hammered by the sounds of low-flying helicopters en route to East Hampton Airport.

“Luckily for Long Island residents, the beginning of August will not also mean the return of onerous helicopter noise that once interrupted dinners, disrupted people enjoying their backyards and had an effect on quality of life and on property values,” said Mr. Schumer in a statement Friday. “The FAA’s and DOT’s decision to extend the successful over-the-water North Shore Route before it expired is a smart one, and I applaud their decision. Congressman Bishop and I will continue to fight for this rule’s permanence, and for this over-the-water route to be expanded, creating a total water route.”

“I am pleased the FAA has announced its intention to extend the north shore route in order to protect Suffolk County residents from helicopter noise as Senator Schumer and I have advocated,” said Congressman Bishop. “I thank the FAA for acting to protect homeowners, and it is my sincere hope that FAA will continue to review ways to minimize the reach of noise pollution.”

Both legislators’ offices have been inundated with constituents’ complaints about deafening helicopter noise for more than a decade, but after the industry ignored voluntary flight paths for several years, the lawmakers pushed the FAA three years ago to create precedent-setting mandatory standards for the North Shore route, which were put in place on a two-year trial basis in the summer of 2012.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, 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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