FAA Refutes Lee Zeldin’s Account of Schumer’s Involvement With Helicopter Route Extension

Congressman Lee Zeldin with North Fork elected officials at Monday's press conference.
Congressman Lee Zeldin with North Fork elected officials at Monday’s press conference.

One day after Congressman Lee Zeldin said at a press conference that the North Shore helicopter route was extended earlier this summer due to “political pressure” and that Senator Charles Schumer was aware of the plan 30 days prior to it being published in the Federal Register, both the FAA and Senator Schumer’s office have refuted Mr. Zeldin’s statements, and Mr. Zeldin has also issued a statement saying he plans to work with the senator on their shared goals.

Our original story is online here.

“There was no secret deal with Senator Schumer or anyone else. Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Zeldin have been unequivocal in their strong support for all over-water helicopter routes on Long Island,” said FAA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs Laura J. Brown in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Both Senator Schumer and Congressman Zeldin have articulated the same concerns to the FAA regarding impacts to their constituents and have been equally forceful in expressing their shared position to extend the helicopter route around Orient Point, Shelter Island, and Plum Island as soon as possible,” she added. “Ultimately the FAA independently made the decision to extend the rule based on the timeline for research efforts to determine appropriate future actions on the rule, without causing a disruption to the current operating environment. The purpose of the research is to gather data on helicopter noise to inform a final route that works for the residents of Long Island and is responsive to the concerns the FAA has heard from the public.”

Mr. Zeldin also released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying he spoke with a senior staffer at Mr. Schumer’s office for half an hour that morning.

“Senator Schumer’s office clearly stated that the senator supports extending the North Shore route around Orient Point while also lifting the hold to create a mandatory South Shore route. I am in full agreement that this is the solution that should be implemented as soon as possible,” Mr. Zeldin said in the statement. “As I stated yesterday, the air traffic over the North Fork is neither equitable or acceptable. A mandatory North Shore route around Orient Point and a mandatory South Shore route offshore over the Atlantic Ocean will result in less air traffic for North Fork residents and that must be the equitable and acceptable goal. I look forward to working closely with Senator Schumer and his team to see this course of action become reality.”

Senator Schumer’s office agreed.

“It is a good thing that the FAA has corrected the record here, noting the identical positions of Senator Schumer, Congressman Zeldin, and other Democrats and Republicans who represent the North Fork to create all water routes on the north and south shore as soon as possible,” said Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro Tuesday afternoon.

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

3 thoughts on “FAA Refutes Lee Zeldin’s Account of Schumer’s Involvement With Helicopter Route Extension

  • August 23, 2016 at 4:50 pm
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    what a joke! – the noise problem, and the complaints, have existed for at least 15 years, and the FAA wants more data (or, more likely, for all the people who remember how quiet it used to be to die).
    It was obvious to a 2 year old that the North Shore Route would involve flying over both the North and South Forks on the way to/from KHTO. Does the FAA have a map somewhere in their sprawling headquarters? Do they know that helicopters and seaplanes fly quite low and make a lot of noise?

    Reply
  • August 23, 2016 at 5:02 pm
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    Nice follow up.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2016 at 10:01 am
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    Good job. Other outlets were quick to accept that Zeldin & Schumer are now on the same team, that FAA staff are the bad guys, & that Zeldin’s accusations against a very senior senator brought no consequences.

    As Beth implies, there’s likely a lot more backroom dealing surrounding this issue than we’re aware of…

    Reply

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