Squadron, Millman, Levin call for Tourist Helicopter Ban

Following yesterday’s fatal helicopter crash in the East River, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and City Council Member Steve Levin, along with other local elected officials, have called for “a complete ban on all tourist helicopters from Manhattan’s dangerous air corridors, including the city’s rivers and harbors.”

According to Senator Squadron:

Yesterday’s tragedy is another clear sign: nonessential helicopters in Manhattan don’t make sense for passengers, pilots, or local residents. My colleagues and I have long called for better regulation of helicopters in New York. There are still many questions about yesterday’s flight. The fact that this helicopter was a privately-run tour from a heliport that was not supposed to run tours shows that today’s regulations don’t work. Simply put, nonessential flights in and out of Manhattan pose too great a risk.

Assemblywoman Millman said:

Yesterday’s unfortunate accident again demonstrates the urgent need to immediately end tourist helicopter tours. We have witness[ed] too many incidents. The City claims these tours generate needed funds, but at what price! Our sympathy for the Nicholson family who lost their daughter Sonia Marra Nicholson in this horrific crash.

Council Member Levin added:

Yesterday’s accident was a horrific and unnecessary tragedy. My deepest condolences go out to all those who were affected by the accident. As our communities have been saying for years, sightseeing and other nonessential helicopters are not just nuisances, they are dangerous. It is time for the city to create a real helicopter policy that protects the safety of both New Yorkers and the millions of tourists who visit our city every year. It is time for a total ban of nonessential helicopters.

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  • Master Of Middagh

    I must say I’m rather surprised that man named “Squadron” would be for banning aircraft of any kind.

  • Master Of Middagh

    Although I suppose a “squadron” can refer to more than just aircraft, it’s just the first thought that comes to mind for me…

  • stuart

    suddenly it’s not the noise but the safety we are concerned about?

  • Adrastos

    The helicopters are so noisy over Red Hook and Govenors Island, they take away the serenity of the park like settings.

    This past summer on Govenor’s Island there were 7 helicopters flying around the Island at the same time, this is a tradgedy waiting to happen, and we have to ask our dumb ass Mayor, is the money generated for the City because of these nuisance flights really worth a persons life???

    One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to get the right answer

  • Claire

    FYI– 2 US Reps in Los Angeles have introduced federal legislation to ban choppers there (no chance of passing, but still….). Sen Schumer added an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill recognizing the FAA’s authority to regulate helicopters over Eastern L.I. Isn’t it our turn? Too bad the EDC, which owns the DMH, is so 100% intransigent– our elected officials have written “Sternly Worded Letters” before and gotten nowhere (community groups have tried, too). I’ll do whatever I can to help them out to finally get rid of those unnecessary, noise and air polluting aircraft! (eg, demanding that the DEP install a noise monitor, and DEC install an air quality monitor, at the DMH. The more the merrier, if anyone else wants to join in…… and there are change.org petitions, too)

  • Eddyenergizer

    I don’t have a side in this matter, the times I notice the sound from the helicopters, it doesn’t really bother me. However, I was curious about the supposed “danger” these aircraft pose so I poked around the net a bit… and found the numbers just don’t support naysayers. Basically, you are far more likely to die from or by an automobile than an aircraft accident. Yep, for the average person walking to the store is more dangerous than getting on a helicopter.

  • Claire

    @eddyenergizer — the tourist choppers run 9 hrs/day (9am-6pm), 7 days/wk, 40 flights/hr (and increasing), with up to 8 choppers at a time idling at the DMH when they aren’t in flight; you’re lucky to live somewhere that you haven’t observed this on a daily basis. I agree with you that the issue is quality of life, and that the tourist companies need to be good neighbors, as opposed to safety…. but as it stands now, they’ve essentially privatized New York Harbor, and are driving those of us who are subjected to their incessant presence nuts!

  • http://inklake.typepad.com Peter

    Damn bike lanes.

  • god

    Choppers crash, Cars crash, Planes crash, Computers crash,
    Bikes crash into people, People crash into each other.

  • nabeguy

    Whisper technology exists, and no one knows that better than Bloomberg. Demand it.

  • Lucifer

    ^Yes and it’s all your fault!

  • Claire
  • Heightser

    Squadron has always talked about this as a safety issue, not just a noise and quality of life issue.

  • GHB

    Police, emergency workers, even traffic reporters should be able to use helicopters. Tourist helicopters are just too damn risky. You want a view? Go to the Empire State Building!

  • Claire

    @nabeguy hahahahahaha!! You’re assuming that the EDC cares about the people who actually live, work and play here! (By the way, the tourist helicopter companies are headquartered in NJ.) And has anyone else noticed that not only are the flights increasing, but they’re now flying virtually on top of the Piers, which the EDC promised they’d never, ever do….? (Believe me– I contact the EDC about this constantly– it would be nice to have some critical mass, folks!)

  • Red Hook

    This is the direct line to Andrew Genn Maritime/ Aviation svp, NYC Economic Development Corp 212 312 3783 . Email agenn@nycedc.com Let him know about the constant tourist Helicopter drone over our community. He is now responsible for dealing with these sightseeing flights from the downtown heliport . Give him a call or email and say hello. The flights are non stop. Enough is enough.

  • Red Hook

    311 Online Noise from Helicopter
    http://www.nyc.gov
    I know this seem futile,but it’s a good way to keep a record. Online 311 will email you a confirmation back. Print them out at the end of the month and give them to State Senator Squadrons office. Seems as if NYCEDC (who supposedly receives these complaints) is ignoring or not keeping track of them.

  • Billy Reno

    Where, oh where, are those individual jet packs we were promised so very long ago?

  • Jim Harrington

    What we need to do at this time is take a cue from the Wall Street dissenters. We need to ‘rally’ in support of our cause with a ‘legal’ permit. We need to get all the people in these affected neighborhoods together in one spot to show our solidarity. Is this blog or local b’klyn paper willing to ‘lead’ on this issue. I believe we’re beyond hopeless e-mails to 311.

  • http://datacase.wordpress.com Andrew Strauss

    Data for Eddyenergizer:

    Helicopters have fatal crashes about 1 time per 100,000 hours flying. At least one fatality per fatal crash, and obviously averaging more than one fatality per fatal crash.
    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/17078.html
    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/783633.html

    Auto fatalities are on the order of 1 fatality per 100,000,000 miles driven.
    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx

    But auto data includes drunks, 18 year olds and 80 year olds. Pull those out, and autos are even safer than that statistic above.
    http://datacase.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/would-you-rather-drive-with-an-80-year-old-or-an-18-year-old/

    Conclusion: flying in helicopters is INDISPUTABLY a relatively dangerous activity. Whether or not the experience is worth the risk, well, that depends on how much you enjoy the experience.

    Of course, the thousands of people who have to listen to the noise pollution get none of the benefit of the view, but evidently these people do not matter to the EDC.

  • Master Of Middagh

    @Andrew Strauss- I’m wary of the word “INDISPUTABLY”, because, get ready for your mind to be blown- I’m about to dispute it! So, right off the bat, that makes you wrong about the point you felt most strongly about.

    You insist that your numbers shouldn’t include drunks, teens and the elderly- why on Earth not? They ARE out there so, naturally, they should be included.

    Also, your numbers are focused on fatalities,without taking into account all of the non-fatal, yet critical or serious injuries sustained in car accidents. That should be included as a danger in addition to fatality. Hey! Maybe the numbers would play out the same. I don’t know, but my point is that the matter clearly isn’t “INDISPUTABLY”!!!!! settled.

    Finally, when Christopher Reeve rescued Lois Lane from the helicopter crash in the first Superman movie, he tells her that “statistically speaking, of course, it’s still the safest way to travel.” Since you like links so much, here’s one for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN7OBEd5hRM&feature=related

  • Eddyenergizer

    @Master Of Middagh, Agreed.

    @Andrew Strauss.

    Sorry, I don’t have the time today to do a more through rebuttal, maybe tomorrow… In the meantime here is a link that echoes most of the data I found and followed the footnotes on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_safety
    Remember the stats are for all air travel and according to the NTSB helicopter travel has a 30% grater risk than fixed wing aircraft but even at that the numbers are still safer than car or foot. The exception is the “Per journey” category, however, one is going to take many thousands of more trips by car and foot in their lifetime than they will by air.

  • http://datacase.wordpress.com Andrew Strauss

    Master: well, I suppose it’s indisputable that nothing is indisputable, as you construe it. So, I withdraw the adverb.
    I did not suggest that one shouldn’t include 18s, 80s and drunks. Only making the point that the standard stats include them, so as a middle-aged person who doesn’t drink and drive, statistically I’m less likely to die in a car crash than the standard stat. A simple point. Almost indisputable.
    Your point about the non-fatal but serious accidents: point taken. I don’t know of data to address that one way or the other.

    Eddie: i’m looking forward to seeing the data, and being proven wrong. I may well be wrong, but I’ll be genuinely surprised. If the data is correct that “Helicopters have fatal crashes about 1 time per 100,000 hours flying”, it would be shocking to me to learn that helicopters are only 1.3x as dangerous as airplanes. Please show me that data: my mind will indeed be blown, to Master’s delight. There are nearly 30,000 commercial flights DAILY in the US (http://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/Atmosphere/air_traffic.html); if they averaged an hour each, there would be a fatal commercial flight a couple times a week.

  • ms elmers

    Helicopters are dangerous–INDISPUTABLY- and please stop defending what is absolutely inappropriate to have in these numbers and in densely populated urban areas.
    We are used to seeing helicopters gun down terrorists and not shuttle vain tourists.
    The noise and visual chaos that we have to endure is beyond words.
    Last night I walked to the water front and as late as 7p.m. and even later there were non stop flights destroying any chance of enjoying the sun set, the parks, the neighborhood.

    For all of those who are not bothered by the noise and the visual chaos, consider yourselves lucky but please do not advocate for this to continue as you have numerous neighbors who absolutely can not stand this another minute.

  • Knight

    Spare us the drama, elmers. We live in New York City. If you want serene sunsets move to a rural area of the west coast.

  • David on Middagh

    Stay, ms elmers! We need you here to fight the good fight!

  • BH’er

    I don’t like helicopter noise any more than I like generator noise and exhaust gas from the ice cream truck at Pierrepont Park…

    It seems the best answer is compromise: noise abatement protocols for take-off and landing paired with idle restrictions on grounded choppers

    Also, tourist rides should take-off and land from an airport: LGA / JFK / EWR / TEB / HPN – take your pick! Have enough cash for a ride? Take a ride to the airport, charge a safety fee and surcharge tax to pay for the heliport and related rescue operations, etc.

    Most accidents occur at take-off and landing, so put the high-risk part of flight away from areas where innocent bystanders could be killed or injured

    And, please, pass laws banning loud and dirty generators from spewing toxic exhaust all day long in front of a playground! A. The exhaust is bad for the children, B. the noise is bad for everyone and C. the ice cream really isn’t a healthy snack, anyway!!!

  • BH’er

    one more thing for “Knight”… they didn’t like the noise in midtown, so they pushed the take-offs and landings downtown to the DMH

    and we don’t like it either, so something has to be done. this isn’t a city/rural issue – BH residents aren’t going to be stuck with the noise and safety issues they didn’t want in midtown

    but, yes, it was a bit dramatic… I actually like watching them land/take-off, but i don’t like listening to it, certainly not all day and into the night

    we should be able to enjoy the parks without so much helicopter noise

    also, i’d like to ask the SI ferry to please shorten their horn bursts… 2 seconds is more than enough… 10+ seconds is overdoing it!!

    we hear you already AND you’re A BIG ORANGE BOAT – WE CAN SEE YOU!!!!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Dear Ms. Elmers, You have proved to the world, you are a complete idiot. Please, take an IQ test and prove it to yourself.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Ummm BH’er, you should do as well.