Congressman Tim Bishop
and United States Senator, Charles E. Schumer sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta, and reiterated their repeated calls for an alteration to the North Shore helicopter route.
The current North Shore route was renewed in June of this year for an additional two years, and only requires helicopter pilots to fly over water once reaching Huntington Town, and allows them to fly over land when safety conditions, weather conditions and transitioning to or from a destination or point of landing requires. The amendment, repeatedly requested by the lawmakers would oblige pilots landing at South Fork airports to fly past Orient Point, and fully around Shelter Island.
"While the renewal of the North Shore route was a step in the right direction, more must be done to alleviate the near-constant nuisance visited upon east end residents," said Congressman Bishop. "Here we have a problem and a clear solution that has been identified. We just need the FAA to implement the solution."
"Progress has been made in the fight to curb deafening helicopter noise, however, clearly more needs to be done," said Schumer. "The success of the existing route is validation that FAA has the authority to enact helicopter rules that mitigate noise for Long Island residents. The FAA should move forward with our improvement to the North Shore Route that extends it past Orient Point. An extension will help prevent helicopters from disrupting the quality of life on the East End of Long Island."
For the past decade, Senator Schumer and Congressman Bishop have supported solutions that would reduce the number of low-flying helicopters on Long Island. Since they were first contacted about the noise, Schumer and Bishop have worked in conjunction with officials from the FAA, New York metropolitan area helicopter operators and airport managers from Nassau and Suffolk Counties to create solutions that will eliminate obnoxious helicopter noise. While the parties originally agreed to voluntary regulations, the recommendations were basically ignored by the industry as a whole.
Senator Schumer introduced and passed legislation in February of 2011 because he was concerned with the industry and FAA implementation of those voluntary regulations. This legislation was included in the Senate version of the FAA Re-authorization Bill. Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Senate Majority tried very hard to include the Schumer legislation in the conference report, but the Republican
-led House, at the industry's request, blocked them.
Senator Schumer and Congressman Bishop successfully pushed the Department of Transportation to finalize and publish regulations that mandate over-water routes for helicopters flying on the North Shore in 2012. If pilots fail to follow the rules, they can be charged monetary fines, or have their licenses revoked. The rule was introduced in 2012 and was set to expire on Wednesday, August 6, 2014. It has now been extended an additional two years. The renewed FAA over-water helicopter route was unprecedented and successful at reducing noise over the majority of Suffolk's north shore. The local helicopter council unsuccessfully challenged the FAA rule in courts.