Friday, 25 February 2011 00:00
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Feb. 18, at the Port Washington Town Dock, that he successfully included an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill, that passed the Senate Feb. 17, providing a deadline for the Federal Aviation Administration to implement helicopter flight regulations within 12 months.
This major breakthrough also provides explicit legal authority to the FAA to implement helicopter flight regulations, shielding the agency from any potential litigation. Earlier this year, the FAA announced it was taking comments on proposed regulations, but has not acted to implement them. Schumer’s legislation places a hard and fast deadline to do so and gives explicit authority to the agency, a key to timely promulgation of meaningful regulations.
“This legislation puts all ambiguity aside, and for the first time, gives the FAA unquestionable authority to put helicopter regulations in effect while providing a hard and fast deadline to start providing some relief from ear-shattering helicopter noise,” said Schumer. “We have worked in every possible way to get these regulations in place and now, by passing a law giving the FAA the explicit authority to regulate helicopter noise on Long Island, the ability of the agency to do so cannot be questioned.”
“We are proud to stand with Senator Schumer as he takes this issue head on,” said North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman. “This is the kind of leadership that will improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of North Hempstead residents and people throughout Long Island.”
Since first being contacted about ground-rattling noise from low-flying helicopters in Long Island, Schumer has worked with officials from the FAA, New York metropolitan area helicopter operators, and airport managers from Nassau and Suffolk Counties to establish voluntary solutions to eradicate onerous helicopter noise. While parties originally agreed to voluntary minimum flight altitudes of 2,500 feet and the establishment of a North Shore route to divert helicopters over the Long Island Sound, those recommendations were largely ignored. The problem became worse and residents continued to be subjected to deafening, foundation-ratting flyovers.
After years of advocacy by Senator Schumer, the FAA finally agreed last year to put in place mandatory regulations, but to date they have not been enacted and the agency appears to be slow-walking their implementation out of fear that their legal authority to do so would be challenged by the helicopter industry. Schumer’s legislation, which passed as an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill last night, provides explicit legal authority to the FAA to regulate helicopters on Long Island and makes it mandatory that those regulations are enacted within 12 months of the legislation being signed into law.
“This is the end of a chapter and makes it indisputably clear that the FAA has the legal authority to implement robust helicopter regulations on Long Island and bring some relief from the incessant buzz of helicopter noise that has plagued Long Island families for years,” said Schumer.
Many of these flights are from New York City out to the East End of the Island and are for recreational or commercial purposes during the summer months. The helicopters intensify during the summer, but are also a constant presence throughout the entire year. These flights impact communities in countless ways, not the least of which is disruption of daily life, forcing people to stay inside during the summer, and reducing property values in impacted areas.