The City Council held a hearing last week on a resolution calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to redirect the North Shore Helicopter Route away from north Queens.
The route requires helicopter pilots to fly along the north shore of Long Island rather than directly over communities, and was established after numerous community noise complaints regarding air traffic between Long Island and Manhattan. The route’s protection, however, does not extend west of Long Island to northeast Queens.
Councilman Paul Vallone, the resolution’s sponsor, said the hearing is a critical next step for what he hopes to be the eventual passage of the resolution.
“The now infamous North Shore route must be re-examined to stop the assault on our quality of life for the benefit of the helicopter industry and their Hamptons commuters,” said Vallone. “I am tired of an industry that hides behind the FAA and Port Authority without offering any voluntary changes to a system that they can easily fix without legislation.”
Vallone is also pushing to have legislation drafted that would require the City Council to be notified of annual data on the location, routes, rules and regulations pertaining to commercial and tourist helicopter routes.
Community leaders fighting to raise awareness on the issue attended the hearing to testify in favor of the resolution.
Tech consultant Daniel Aronoff—developer of a website enabling residents to digitally submit helicopter noise complaints—said that the helicopter noise has increased significantly over the last few years.
“Longtime Whitestone residents can attest that nobody paid any attention to a passing helicopter when daily operations did not exceed a dozen a day,” Aronoff said. “However, we are at a point where during peak season we are likely to see that many in half an hour.”
George Mirtsopoulos, vice president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association, noted the volume of low flying helicopters in an ongoing nuisance seriously affecting the quality of life in the area.
“Myself and my community no longer enjoy our summers while those who utilize this method of transportation are having a great time,” Mirtsopoulos said.
Robert J. Hanophy, president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association, added the helicopter traffic and noise services the needs of privileged travelers with no regard to the residents of northeast Queens.
“If the North Shore helicopter route was created to disburse helicopter traffic over the North Shore of Long Island, then residents of Queens deserve the same consideration by the FAA,” Hanophy said.