Big Apple residents are fuming at the city’s so-called “hellish helicopter highway” they say is causing excessive noise and pollution as lawmakers seek to ban “non-essential” chopper flights.

“We can’t take it anymore, It’s too much,” Dororta Lukaszynska, who has lived in Tribeca for two decades, told The Post on Tuesday. 

“Noise pollution is a proven health hazard and we’re subjected to these non-essential helicopter flights — the tourists and the commuter flights — seven days a week, at all hours,” Upper West Side resident and chair of Stop the Chop, Melissa Elstein added.

The city sees about 30,000 flights per year, however, those trips have been significantly outpaced by the number of noise complaints being lodged.

In the last year, 59,000 complaints were filed with 311 about helicopter noise — more than double the 26,000 filed in 2022.

A helicopter prepares to land at the 30th Street heliport in front of Hudson Yards and the Empire State Building in Manhattan on May 22, 2023. Getty Images

City Council members on Tuesday proposed legislation that would entirely ban “non-essential” flights from the Big Apple’s two heliports until electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology is approved for civilian transportation use by the federal government.

eVOTL technology is hoped to lessen noise and pollutants produced by choppers.

“Helicopters are clearly a priority and an ongoing issue for New Yorker’s citywide,” Councilwoman Amanda Farias (D-Bronx) said at a rally outside City Hall on Tuesday, adding that noise isn’t the only issue.

“The environmental effects of helicopters are incredibly damaging to both our climate and to New Yorkers’ health. Just one helicopter alone idling is equivalent to 40 cars idling.”

NY City Council Member Lincoln Restler supports the ban of non-essential helicopter traffic to “end the extreme noise and the air pollution.” William Farrington

The Federal Aviation Administration is unlikely to approve eVOTL technology until next year, with commercial operations not expected in New York until at least 2026, according to the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), who met with lawmakers for a hearing on the matter Tuesday.

“We recognize that community members have quality of life concerns about helicopter noise and we are committed to leveraging our position in this space to address those concerns,” Jennifer Sun, EDC’s executive vice president of planning, said during the hearing. 

The city fell short of publicly taking a position on the ban bill — much to the disappointment of the Committee on Economic Development, helmed by Farias.

“We know that the law department is reviewing each of the bills together,” Sun said. 

NY City Councilwoman Amanda Farias speaks during an Economic Development Committee hearing on April 16, 2024.

“Okay, so when should I expect, I mean, usually you folks come with testimony, with some sort of response,” Farias snapped back.

“While I can’t speak on their behalf in terms of a timeline, I do know that it is something that they are working on,” Sun continued.

Farias took the non-committal answer as a resounding show of support saying: “I’m gonna take it as, you are all wholeheartedly supportive of every intro and reso so then.”

If the legislation is approved, EMS and news organizations would still be permitted to fly but sightseeing flights for tourists and aerial commutes by wealthier residents will be halted unless aircrafts are electric powered.

“It is long past time for us to end the extreme noise and the air pollution caused by the helicopter industry in New York City just so the privileged can get a faster path to the Hamptons or JFK.That is wrong,” Councilman Lincoln Restler (D-Brooklyn), who put up one of the bills, said.

“It is absolutely wrong. These folks should be in cars or better yet public transit to get to where they need to go.”

EDC officials told lawmakers they can make a more positive change to the industry through franchise agreements with vendors.

They currently have a “request for proposals” for a new vendor to take over the Wall Street heliport where many of the trips complained about launch from. 

The agency said whoever wins the contract will need to create electric charging infrastructure in time for eVOTL approval and will be asked to do so beforehand.

EDC believes companies will jump at the opportunity to corner the eVOTL market in the city “because of these noise complaints,” Adrian Fredriksson, EDC’s director of aviation said in the hearing.

While EDC have acknowledged that there have been a large number of complaints, they argue a “large uptick” is coming from the same individuals.

“So 90% are coming from the top 20 complainants. Now all complaints are valid, but it is you know, often generated by the same user many times a day, sometimes with all their neighbors addresses as well,” Fredriksson argued.

They said about 1% of complaints are actually related to tourist flights while crowing of the 175 jobs the industry provides.

A helicopter flies over Midtown Manhattan at sunset on Nov. 12, 2023. Getty Images

“The NYC EDC has told us that the helicopter industry generates less than $2 million in revenue for the city annually, merely a drop in the bucket of a $100 million dollar budget for New York City,” Farias said. 

“It is simply unacceptable for our cities to suffer the consequences of pollution and ridiculous noise levels just for the brief enjoyment of a select few, especially when it’s barely bringing any city revenue.”

Source link