Those of you who have followed this blog for some time know that the issue of helicopter noise is perennial. Even if you’re new to the blog, you may know that it’s an issue for Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and other nearby neighborhoods. Just over a year ago, as we noted, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose district includes Brooklyn Heights, along with Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler, called the “Improving Helicopter Safety Bill of 2019.” If enacted, the bill would have banned all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City.
Rep. Nadler has now, as Raanan Geberer in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has reported, introduced a new bill, “The Safe and Quiet Skies Act.”
The bill, according to Nadler’s office, would mandate strict regulation of commercial air tour operations to address defense risks and community disruption, including no overflights of defense, parks, cemeteries, and other sensitive installations and minimum altitude maximum noise limits on all flights.
The Eagle story notes that “[w]hile the bill doesn’t specify New York City or Brooklyn, a quote from Nadler leaves little doubt about its intended target.”
The commercial air tours that buzz incessantly through New York City’s skies are not only a source of unnecessary and damaging noise and environmental pollution, they put New Yorkers and tourists in danger. After more than thirty helicopter crashes in New York City since 1980 alone, many of which been fatal, I have repeatedly called on the FAA to impose additional regulations to keep our city safe. Unfortunately, the FAA has failed to take meaningful action.
With Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and White House, this bill may stand a good chance of passage and enactment.