Tourist Chopper Traffic To Be Trimmed

The Brooklyn Paper reports that New York City and the operators of tourist helicopter flights have agreed to a phased reduction of the number of such flights that will result in a fifty percent reduction as of January 2017. Sunday flights will cease entirely as of April 1 of this year. A twenty percent reduction in the number of flights from 2015 levels will go into effect in June of this year; this will become a forty percent reduction as of October, then fifty percent in January. The Brooklyn Paper story quotes Mayor de Blasio:

We’ve reached an agreement that will significantly cut down on the number of helicopter tours near residential areas and major parks, while keeping this part of our tourism sector active and viable.

The deal was announced as a bill was under consideration in the City Council that would have banned tourist helicopter flights entirely; a position some affected residents still prefer. The New York Times quotes John Dellaportas, a Battery Park City resident and president of Stop the Chop NYNJ: “So instead of a flight every two minutes, it will be one every four minutes.”

One question occurs to this writer: How is the baseline for a reduction from “2015 levels” to be determined? Will it be an average of flight numbers per day over the course of that year, or will the operators be able to cherry pick a day of peak activity and use that as the baseline?

Photo: Acclaim Images; public domain.

Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • gc

    Who could possibly think that this is a reasonable solution?
    Is this really what our representatives on the City Council think is a satisfactory solution? Throw them all out and let’s start again. I’m sure deBlasio is a big part of the problem. What a mistake I made thinking he would make a positive difference. It’s been just the opposite.

  • Banet

    If anything, this sounds like it will make the helicopters MORE disruptive. Instead of an endless, constant drone there will be moments of blissfull silence where one can let their guard down… only to have the quiet interrupted again.

    Any chance we can get them to group the flights? Say, no flights half the day, the old density the other half of the day?

  • StoptheChop

    This is no “deal” for New Yorkers, but it certainly helps when the industry lobbyist is (purely coincidentally, of course) a deBlasio donor/fundraiser. The agreement was made in secret, with no community input. At best, the flight frequency will be at 2009-10 levels, which was considered to be too high then — leading to the 2010 MOU that the EDC and industry figured out how to work around quite well. Even the supposed protection of Governors Island won’t mean much, given how narrow Buttermilk Channel is (and I wonder if this means Cobble Hill/Red Hook will be even noisier). What the stories don’t report is that in exchange for the purported reduction (as Claude points out, reduction from what?), the industry will get an extended lease at the heliport, even further entrenching it. Interestingly, there wasn’t any renegotiation of the route– but if the “deal” is so great at reducing noise and air pollution (aside: the people near the heliport will still be hammered with nonstop emissions), maybe the helitours should start to fly over Gracie Mansion, as well as over the homes/workplaces of every official who’s touting this outcome?

    This lays out the scenario much more clearly, even with the purported reduction:

  • StoptheChop

    From what I heard, the industry lobbyist had superpowers that took out the Council. deBlasio was apparently intransigent, and the EDC is in thisclose to the industry, too. So, there wasn’t enough support for the bills. What’s really disappointing is the way the Council members who knew what was going on didn’t let on, or involve community organizations in any way,

  • MaryT

    It’s also kind of creepy that this back-room deal was announced just before the NYT ran Adrian Benepe’s Sunday editorial favoring an end to ALL tourist flights. Is a Council vote still precluded?

  • StoptheChop

    Not precluded, but there won’t be any effort to get the bill passed at this point. Maybe if the public starts seriously pushing back and saying “this deal isn’t a good one!”, the Council would reconsider, but who knows. And yes, very suspicious timing indeed.

  • Andrew Porter

    Sounds like the deal for the carriage horses, whereby public lands were to be given for the creation of a new stable, and the old ones to be sold off to the highest bidders, with no public input.

    Very suspicious.

    I’ll still going to pursue my plans for barrage balloons to be suspended by steel cables above Brooklyn Bridge Park.

  • Concerned

    Diblasio is the worst. I hope the republicans find a true moderate with a little charisma to whoop him next election. Or maybe Preet Bharara will beat him as a democrat. Either way, he’s a fake man of the people.

  • Wally O’Keefe

    Remember when Da-Blazio got arrested with Steve Levin for demonstrating to Save Lich from being closed and turned into a condo project? What a fraud! Both of them.

  • StudioBrooklyn
  • e

    will believe it when we see it.
    the Sunday flight ban is good news (will make a real difference and be easy to police compliance).
    I agree that the rest of the deal is no meaningful concession.
    How is the deal supposed to be made binding? Is a contract being signed? Between who and whom? All helicopter operators and the city council?

  • StoptheChop

    Not the City Council, but the EDC, which the industry has very neatly already captured.

  • Roberto Gautier

    For those who suffer from the helicopter flights, partial torture is still torture. To come up with a “never on Sunday” compromise has to be seen as an attempt to silence the effort to push for a full ban of tourist helicopters flights over NYC. This will make it easy for City Council proponents of the ban to bury the issue with rhetoric. A similar bill to reign in after-hours construction has been sitting in the Council for months. The real estate and construction industries, just like the helicopter folks, have gotten their way.

  • Alfonce

    well the ban on sundays is a start, at least i can go to a park on sunday. I still believe the tourist helicopters should be banned once and for all. It is not fair to all the taxpayers and residents of our city to have to endure this constant noise all day long just to make a few tourist happy. We matter, we the taxpayers quality of life should come first and foremost, NOT tourists. I think deblasio is terrible to take tourism over taxpayers, that pay his salary, shame on him.