This letter gives my understanding of the status of the ongoing efforts to reduce the safety and noise issues associated with helicopter flights over the North Shore.
While it is my opinion that we have made little or no progress resolving the problems here on the North Shore, I am encouraged that certain local, state and federal officials are now involved and seem eager to help. In addition to the noise and safety issues, they recognize that the Homeland Security aspects of the problem, which have not been previously addressed, may in fact be the most important of all.
In particular I would like to mention that Congressman Ackerman, who recently met with Lee Seeman (North Hempstead Councilwoman from Great Neck) and me, will be pursuing the Homeland Security issues with state and city officials. I would also like to thank Senator Craig Johnson and Assemblyperson Michelle Schimel for helping raise the issue of Homeland Security with Secretary Michael Balboni and Town Clerk Leslie Gross who has been very supportive and helped open a line of communication with Senator Schumer's office.
Status of ongoing data collection and legislative efforts is as follows:
A. Senator Schumer submitted S. 1867 to the senate in 2007. This bill asks that the FAA conduct a study of issues associated with helicopter flights over Long Island and is required to report back to Congress within 90 days. This bill has not yet moved out of the Commerce Subcommittee for a vote by the full Senate.
B. Congressman Bishop (eastern LI) has attached to the FAA funding bill (HR-2881) a section 819 which says pretty much what Senator Schumer's bill does but whereas Senator Schumer asks for a report in 90 days, Congressman Bishops asks for a report within 6 months. HR-2881 has passed the House but has not yet been voted on in the Senate.
C. The Town of North Hempstead has been collecting helicopter flight data called into the town's 311 center. This data is then sent to Senator Schumer's office here on Long Island where it is passed to the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council (ERHC). ERHC is a volunteer, nonprofit group that claims to be trying to get the pilots to fly patterns that reduce the noise problem. My understanding is that ERHC has no control of the pilots or helicopter operators. They may have had some success at the east end but their efforts do not appear to be doing us any good here on the North Shore.