Northeast Queens leaders continue their fight to reduce helicopter noise pollution

Photo courtesy of the office of Congressman Tom Suozzi

Several northeast Queens representatives recently met to come up with a plan to tackle the ongoing noise pollution from helicopters flying over the area.

On July 30, Congressman Tom Suozzi, Councilman Paul Vallone and state Senator Tony Avella met with local officials to discuss the mitigation of helicopter noise in northeast Queens. Among those present at the meeting were representatives of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, TRACON, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Eastern Helicopter Regional Council, and the We Love Whitestone civic association.

“I became co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus because my constituents in northeast Queens have been forced to endure constant and intrusive noise due to low-flying helicopters at all hours of the night,” Suozzi said. “[On Monday] I met with officials from the FAA, as well as representatives from groups of concerned citizens, with the singular goal of coming up with realistic solutions to a problem that has been affecting the quality of life for these constituents.”

Aircraft noise has been a long-standing issue for northeast Queens. A number of complaints about the noise over Long Island prompted a route change for helicopters, which were now directed to fly along the north shore of the land. However, the change did not protect northeast Queens from its own noise issues.

“I am hopeful that all of the strategies discussed, including the development of alternate flight paths, minimum altitude standards, and safety procedures, will be devised and implemented quickly in order to finally provide our residents with relief from the relentless onslaught of helicopter noise in our neighborhoods,” Avella said.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was directed to take an updated look at how aircraft noise is measured throughout the area. Under the current Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) method, aircraft noise is measured on a scale that averages all community noise during a 24-hour period. A tenfold penalty is instilled on noise that occurs during nighttime and early morning hours.

In March, a deadly helicopter crash in the East River took the lives of five passengers. This prompted Councilman Vallone to call on the city to change how helicopter noise and safety is monitored. Vallone, who sits as Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, also called in the FAA to make changes to the North Shore Helicopter Route back in February.

“As a result of this meeting, an understanding is in place for all parties to develop plans and strategies to develop alternate flight paths and routes, minimum altitude standards and maximum speed requirements, overall safety procedures and the collection of necessary data,” Vallone said.

“Getting all concerned parties together was a good first step,” Suozzi said. “Now that we have the FAA’s attention we will continue to push forward to get some results, and much needed relief, for the residents of northeast Queens.”

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