The Federal Aviation Administration last announced that helicopters traveling between New York City and East Hampton Airport would be ordered to travel up the northern coastline of Long Island, over Long Island Sound, for at least four more years.
The decision was met with immediate criticism from some local officials who have sided with residents of the North Fork, Noyac and Sag Harbor in calling for a second official approach route from the south, over the Atlantic.
North Fork residents, especially, have derided the northern route, which has been in effect since 2012, as burdening them with the thunder of low-flying helicopters headed for an airport that isn’t even in their own region.
The northern route requires that helicopters remain at least one mile north of land, until they turn south toward the airport. Residents of Mattituck have complained that the route forces nearly all of East Hampton’s thousands of helicopter flights, directly over their homes.
Advocates of a new southern transit route have said that adding an Atlantic route would divert a substantial portion of flights and would allow helicopters to stay entirely over water for a longer time before turning north to the airport, which lies less than one-mile inland.
“The status quo is not acceptable,” said State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, who lives in Sag Harbor. “The current route has resulted in detrimental impacts to the quality of life across eastern Long Island. We have appealed to the FAA to work with us to find the right balance to permit aviation to coexist with the needs of residents on the ground. However, again they have turned their backs on the very public they are supposed to protect.”
U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin expressed his own dissatisfaction with the FAA’s decision at a meeting with North Fork residents last weekend.
“The FAA’s announcement that they will be extending the North Shore route for four years is an unacceptable example of incompetence and arrogance on the part of faceless, unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucrats,” Mr. Zeldin said in a statement sent out by his office shortly after the announcement. “The agency’s written explanation for this extension, including the justification for its lack of public comment or notice, reaches a new level of tone-deafness, when citing ‘good cause for immediate adoption without prior notice.’”
The Eastern Region Helicopter Council, a helicopter industry group that works to find ways to reduce noise impacts on residential regions, has proposed voluntary new approaches over various parts of the North Fork in an attempt to scatter the traffic of helicopters approaching and departing the airport as they make their way to the northern transit route.