New helicopter route over northeast Queens aims to finally give local ears some relief

Northeast Queens may soon get some relief from the airborne noise caused by helicopters and float planes.

Beginning on Monday, Oct. 15, Congressman Tom Suozzi announced, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will test a six-month-long alternative route that will shift inbound air traffic away from Whitestone, Bayside and other areas of northeast Queens. The route will serve as an alternative to the current North Shore helicopter route, which flies along the north shore of Long Island, and is estimated to cut helicopter and seaplane traffic by up to 50 percent.

Suozzi, Councilman Paul Vallone and the We Love Whitestone Civic Association applauded the FAA’s efforts to quell the noise that has been plaguing residents for years.

Since he took office in 2017, Suozzi had been working with the FAA and local stakeholders to address issues like air safety and noise abatement from the increased air traffic. In the past, the congressman, who is co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, has called for the aviation authority to explore alternative routes to improve the quality of life for those in his district.

“The communities of Whitestone, Bayside and northeast Queens have suffered from incessant helicopter and aircraft noise. In recent years, air traffic volume has increased dramatically, reaching a point where families cannot enjoy their own backyards without constant noise, making them prisoners in their own homes,” Suozzi said in his Oct. 2 announcement. “The alternative route will dramatically improve the quality of life for affected residents.”

The temporary procedures will be used by LaGuardia Tower and New York TRACON for a total of 180 days. During that time the FAA will test and evaluate the alternative route on VFR helicopters and float planes operating at New York City heliports and seaports.

Upon successful evaluation, the new procedures will be incorporated into the N90/LGA Tower Letter of Agreement. The FAA will be examining data collected under varying conditions including traffic volume, runway configurations, complexity and weather.

“The communities of Bayside, Whitestone and College Point have dealt with the onslaught of helicopter noise for far too long,” said Vallone. “This pilot program will bring immediate relief and improve safety, a win-win. I thank Congressman Suozzi for prioritizing this important issue and I look forward to continuing to work with him to protect and improve the quality of life for the families of northeast Queens.”