Ban Nonessential Helicopters Over NYC & Regulate NY/NJ Metropolitan Airspace

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I, the undersigned, for the numerous reasons listed below, urge the FAA to ban non-essential helicopters from NYC’s airspace and adjacent waterways and I petition the United States Congress to pass H.R. 1643 - “The Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2021”, formerly H.R.4880 – “The Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019”. 

1) Non-essential Helicopters Pose Needless Dangers Over Densely Populated Cities, such as NYC:

     Since 1980, there have been at least 30 helicopter crashes in and around NYC, resulting in numerous fatalities and serious injuries, as well as property damage. In 2019, a commuter helicopter crashed into midtown’s Equitable Building resulting in the death of the pilot, a rooftop fire, and a neighborhood evacuation. Also, in 2019, a Blade helicopter crashed into the Hudson River. In 2017, all 5 passengers died when a Liberty Tour sightseeing flight crashed into the East River. Unbelievably, even with such a history of crashes, tourism, photography, commuter and charter helicopters continue to fly dangerously low over our buildings, parks, schools, waterways and roadways seven days a week. Non-essential helicopters should not be flying over densely populated cities, and “The  Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019” introduced by NY Congress-members Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Nydia Velasquez, would prohibit such risky flights. This legislation is long-overdue and must be passed by Congress, as the FAA has negligently allowed helicopter traffic to run amok over NYC, NJ, local waterways, and much of the NY metropolitan area without appropriate restrictive and protective regulations. Non-essential helicopters also pose an unnecessary terrorism risk, as heliport security is generally lax to non-existent; NYC has already been the target of several terrorist attacks, including the 9/11 hijacked airline flights into the World Trade Center. We need to protect our citizens from both accidental helicopter crashes and potential helicopter terrorism.

2) Non-Essential Helicopters Create Needless and Harmful Environmental and Noise Pollution:

     Passing this legislation would have a positive impact on literally millions of residents and visitors in the greater NY Metropolitan Area who suffer needlessly from toxic noise and air pollution year after year. The incessant loud noise and rumbling vibrations from helicopter flights over buildings, homes, parks, schools and open spaces create a continuous stressful environment. Numerous studies show the deleterious effect of noise on learning, and excessive helicopter noise can lead to slower brain development in children and eventual brain damage if not curtailed early. Yet, alarmingly, many schools are near the flightpaths of these non-essential helicopters. Additionally, beloved urban parks, such as NYC’s iconic Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governor’s Island, and others are part of the sightseeing plans of tourism and photography helicopters that emanate from New Jersey airports; for example, loud helicopters hover over the reservoir jogging path, Shakespeare in the Park, and the NY Philharmonics Great Lawn concerts in Central Park. Helicopters detract from what should be quiet and peaceful experiences for residents and tourists in our urban nature oases. Similarly, incessant tourist and commuter helicopters buzzing over our surrounding rivers and harbors reduce the ability of residents and visitors alike to enjoy these areas for recreation and sightseeing. After spending over $1 billion on beautiful waterfront parks (in NYC’s five boroughs and along the Hudson River on both the NJ and NY sides), park goers now have to suffer with noisy flights as often as every two minutes. Additionally, these fossil fuel guzzling helicopter flights add at least 6,000 tons of toxic carbon pollution annually, poisoning the air we breathe and contributing to climate change. 

3) Conclusion:

     For-profit helicopter companies treat our skies and neighborhoods as their private domain with no regard for the millions of people who are negatively affected on a daily basis. Helicopter traffic reduces real estate values, puts people at risk of life and property loss, and negatively impacts outdoor businesses, festivals and public events. These non-essential helicopters are a highly polluting form of transportation and entertainment and they needlessly create stress-inducing noise pollution throughout NY and NJ neighborhoods. Helicopter “joyrides” have dangerously been allowed to proliferate our skies irrespective of the detriment they cause to the many. For all these stated reasons, Congress must ban non-essential helicopter flights over densely populated urban areas, and the FAA must finally agree to properly regulate the overcrowded and unsafe airspace in the greater NY/NJ Metropolitan area. It is time to take back our skies, environment, and peace of mind!