Bill to Ban Non-Essential Helicopter Flights Over City Introduced in Congress

The Eagle’s Mary Frost reports that three U.S. Rrepresentatives, all of whom serve districts at least partly in Brooklyn, including Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (photo), whose New York 7th District includes all of Brooklyn Heights, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, have introduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Bill of 2019. If enacted, the bill would ban all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City. The Eagle story quotes Rep. Maloney, the bill’s chief sponsor, as saying its prime motivation is safety:

I truly, deeply believe that non-essential flight should be banned from New York City. It is just too densely populated, it is too dangerous, and there is absolutely no safe place to land.

What flights does the bill consider “essential”? According to Rep. Maloney’s website these are essential:

law enforcement, emergency response, disaster response, medical services, or for the public interest; does not affect military aircrafts [sic].

“Eye in the Sky” traffic monitor flights by news media are considered “for the public interest.” Flights considered “nonessential” are those by

any helicopter flown by a pilot with a Part 135 or Part 91 license (i.e. any private or commercial pilot) whose purpose is not “essential”

which would include tourist or commuter flights, including the Uber flights from Manhattan to JFK. Nonessential flights would be prohibited from

flying in covered airspace of any city with a population of over 8 million people and with a population density of over 25,000 people per square mile—including waterways within the city’s jurisdiction.

LaGuardia and JFK airports are excluded from “covered airspace” but helicopters must “fly through the shortest, most direct routes possible to access or depart from airports.”

While this legislation does not address the issue of helicopter noise, if enacted it would of necessity have the effect of reducing it noticeably. In Gothamist’s estimation, “[t]he fate of this new attempt at a ban is up in the air, for now.”

Share this Story:

, , , , ,

  • Andrew Porter

    While sending information about this to a friend who volunteers at a historic airplane museum in the UK, I came across the fact that in 2014, the Wall Street Helipad accounted for 14,000 annual takeoffs and landings. And surely it’s way more by now!