New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket

New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket
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Noise complaints about helicopters from New York City residents have tripled in 2021, according to The New York Times

The city's 311 hotline received 17,733 calls about helicopter noise, more than three times the number reported during the same period last year, the Times noted.

Most of the calls have come from residents of Manhattan who are now working from home and are directly in helicopter flight paths. 

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“It’s a lot of people whose apartments lie in the flight path and people who now work at home,” Mark Levine, a city councilman who represents parts of northern Manhattan, told the newspaper.

While many of the flights are essential, New York residents are reportedly concerned about the increasing frequency of tourist flights as the number of visitors rebounds after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2020, Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyOversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall GOP seeks oversight hearing with Kerry on climate diplomacy  MORE (D-N.Y.) said many helicopter tourism businesses had moved out of the city to dodge New York regulations that have tightened rules to reduce helicopter traffic.

“New Jersey and Connecticut officials could step up and regulate, but they’re making money off this industry,” she said at the time. “It’s not their citizens who are bearing the burden, so they have no incentive to act.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers from New Jersey pushed for state legislation to limit tourist helicopter flights, which they say are "nonessential and dangerous," according to the Jersey Journal.

House Democrats from New York recently reintroduced a 2019 bill that would bar nonessential helicopters from flying above the city. The federal Improving Helicopter Safety Act would drastically cut helicopter traffic, improve safety and cut down on noise pollution, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

"The bottom line is, the risks that commuter, charter, and tourism helicopter flights pose to New Yorkers far outweigh the benefit to the very small number of people who use them. There is absolutely no margin for error when you fly over somewhere as densely populated as New York,” Maloney said while introducing the bill.

Since 1982, there have been at least 30 helicopter crashes in New York City that have caused 25 fatalities, according to National Transportation Safety Board records.

However, the Times noted that the Federal Aviation Administration is responsible for regulating the safety of U.S. airspace and has not indicated the need to apply stricter rules over the New York airspace.

Between October 2019 and October 2020, helicopter noise complaints in New York City jumped by 130 percent, according to Curbed, a neighborhood news web site.