West Side Rag »Ban tourist helicopters, say elected officials; 2 bills could force limits

Posted on November 4, 2021 at 4:04 p.m. by Carol Tannenhauser

Councilor Gale Brewer, NYS Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and others.

By Michael McDowell

A choir of elected officials from the Upper West Side and beyond delivered a clear message outside the West 30th Street helipad last week: Like a lot of New Yorkers, they got it with the helicopters, and they’re asking the federal government to do something.

“We are here today to call on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the United States Department of Transportation to support the Helicopter Safety Improvement ActSaid Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents New York’s 10th District.

“This is an urgent problem, which affects New Yorkers every day,” Nadler said, above the din. “Our bill would lead where the FAA has failed, and by banning non-essential helicopters from overhead New York City covered airspace, keep New Yorkers safe and improve the quality of life.”

“The FAA does not comment on pending legislation,” said an FAA spokesperson, when asked for a response to the breach charges and the bill. The US Department of Transportation has yet to respond to several inquiries. We’ll update if they do.

“[The helicopters] are a nuisance and a danger to the safety of the five boroughs and New Jersey ”, Newly elected UWS city council member Gale Brewer told the presser. “We are tired of this situation and we are not going to put up with it anymore. “

New York has always been noisy, but a growing number of New Yorkers are increasingly exasperated by the noise produced by helicopters, the majority of which serve neither public safety nor information, but tourists and affluent commuters. .

“Tens of thousands of thefts a year. It’s no wonder that the oppressive and disorienting noise of helicopters has become a part of the lives of so many of us now, ”said Brewer.

All of this often for a photo shoot.

Mastering the helicopter hordes won’t be easy; it won’t take an act of God, but it might take an act of Congress. This is because city and state officials are limited in their ability to act, as the regulation of airspace over New York City is the responsibility of the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA).

The Helicopter Safety Improvement Act would ban most helicopter traffic over New York City, except for public health and safety, and construction. Another bill, the Safe and Quiet Skies Act, would ban commercial aerial tours over national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, military installations and national cemeteries.

“Either bill would make a big difference,” said Rob Gottheim, district manager in Nadler’s office. “I have been with Nadler 23 short years and have been working there for at least 20 years.

Nothing is easy in New York.

“There was no point in talking to Giuliani ”, continued Gottheim. “Aclose giulianiIt was difficult to talk to Bloomberg: not only did the man own helicopters, he was a pilot himself. We were very disappointed with de Blasio, we thought [his] plan was a very weak plan. So we want a total ban. It’s kind of crazy that we didn’t do that after September 11.

“We are against the general aviation lobby,” Gottheim said, and they “don’t want to give in an inch.”

Will the Upper West Siders ever be able to live in peace?

When can we eat a bagel and a schmear in silence? I’m not going to guarantee anything, but we’ll do our best to make sure that happens and we’re committed to making it happen, ”said Gottheim.

“Stop the chop.”

As the press conference drew to a close – “we have to stop this now before we become Sao Paolo,” railed Ken Coughlin, of Community Board 7 – the Rag spotted Melissa Elstein, from both. Stop the Chop NY / NJ and the West 80s Neighborhood Association. Stop the Chop has a petition to end non-essential helicopter flights over New York on Change.org that more than 10,000 people have already signed.

“Stop the Chop NY / NJ is a completely voluntary organization,” Elstein said. “We’re just community members doing this seven days a week because helicopters fly seven days a week. I’d rather do something else with my time than fight helicopters,” she said with a laugh. .

For those who clench their fists at the racquet, Elstein has some context.

“If it’s a commuter, he’s going to roar really fast, really loud and go through Central Park. If it’s a tourist, they’ll revolve around Jackie O. Reservoir or Sheep’s Meadow. We have video footage of a Naumberg concert where you can’t even hear the last note of the symphony because of a helicopter. And now they’re advertising to fly over the Thanksgiving Parade! “

But it’s not just about the quality of life or the disruption of events like Shakespeare in the park, a summer symphony or Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.

“This is a safety issue, a safety issue, a health issue and an environmental issue – it’s a multi-faceted issue created by a niche industry that [causing] suffer for thousands, if not millions, ”Elstein said. “It impacts our neighborhood, except in the event of a storm or rain. We have come to the point where we pray for bad weather!

A spokesperson for Blade, “an urban air mobility platform” that allows you to reserve seats on regular flights and charter private flights, said in a statement that its competitors were the source of the problems.

“We agree with the letter to Secretary Buttigieg and Administrator McDonell regarding this helicopter tour operators such as FlyNYON cause noise pollution for our community and the nature of the closed doors of their flights raise significant safety concerns, ”said the spokesperson. The spokesperson also said that Blade plans to IIncorporate silent, zero-emission electric vertical aircraft (EVA) on all routes as EVA becomes available.

Requests for comments from flyNYON, a tour operator and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, an industrial and commercial group, have not yet been fired.

Back in the Upper West Side, the sky was cloudy, but several helicopters were audible in the distance. Enthusiasts and disapprovers alike can track flights over the Upper West Side on sites such as Flight radar24.

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