Voices in support of H.R. 4880

“This past June, we were all reminded of the safety threat posed by non-essential helicopters when a pilot attempted to make an emergency landing and crashed into the AXA Equitable Center in my district in Midtown Manhattan. My colleagues and I have called on the FAA numerous times to impose additional regulations that would make New York City airspace safer, but we have yet to see sufficient measures be taken. That is why we have introduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019 to finally protect the safety and wellbeing of New Yorkers. The bottom line is, the risks that commuter, charter, and tourism helicopter flights pose to New Yorkers far outweigh the benefit to the very small number of people who use them. There is absolutely no margin for error when you fly over somewhere as densely populated as New York,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

“Although we have previously called on the Federal Aviation Administration to ban all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City, we must do more,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07). “While we all remember the terrible accident in June and others in previous years, safety is not the only concern. Many of my Brooklyn neighbors who live near the water’s edge suffer from incessant noise pollution, due to helicopter flights. That’s why I am proud to join my colleagues in authoring legislation to ban all non-essential flights over New York. Simply, our City is not a good fit for helicopter air traffic and it is time this practice was addressed once and for all.” 

“Since 1980, there have been at least 30 helicopter crashes in New York City, many of which have been fatal,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). “Despite my colleagues and I having called on the FAA numerous times to take simple and prudent action to protect our city, the FAA has refused to sufficiently act. That is why I joined Representatives Maloney and Velázquez in authoring legislation to protect our skies by banning non-essential flights over New York City. There is simply no justification for allowing tourists to joy-ride over our city, endangering lives and creating unnecessary noise pollution.

“For many New Yorkers, especially those who live along the Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfront, noise pollution produced by tourist helicopters has become a daily burden on peaceful enjoyment of their homes and communities. The copters have also raised ongoing concerns about safety, and they have huge negative environmental impacts,” said New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh

“Helicopters shouldn’t be flying over our dense urban environment. Tourist helicopters are increasingly unsafe and create quality of life issues for our constituents through noise and exhaust…” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman.

“With the exponential growth of private, commercial helicopter traffic, New York’s skies are quickly becoming just as congested as our streets. The copters promise the wealthy and well connected speedy and stress-free commutes with scenic views, but what about the effect on the rest of us? In addition, the near-constant noise that some communities in the flight path experience, they are uber polluters spewing carbon into our environment and they are dangerously unregulated,” said New York State Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal.

“I join my colleagues in thanking our Congressional leaders as they move to address a myriad of safety and quality of life issues resulting from non-essential helicopters operating throughout the city. We’ve heard community members’ concerns, and are glad this long fought for measure is being introduced,” said New York Assembly Member Deborah Glick.

New York Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon“This legislation will solve not only a quality of life issue for the many New Yorkers who live along the waterfront by reducing the incessant and for some triggering, noise, but will also drastically improve safety”.

“Helicopters have been a nuisance and a safety hazard to the five boroughs for far too long,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I have been sounding the alarm on this issue for twenty years.”

“Helicopter noise is incessant across my district, from heliport operations to flights over Central Park. With safety and quality of life a priority, we must address prevalent flights that are overrunning the city,” said New York City Council Member Keith Powers.

“The use of helicopters for non-essential travel has proven time and again to pose a serious threat to the safety and quality of life of the residents of New York City,” said New York City Council Member Mark Levine. “These flights are loud, they pollute our air, and have little to no value to the public. And as we have seen far too many times, they can be dangerous. With the rise of app-based flights this problem will only get worse. The status quo is intolerable…”

“Our city already has one of the highest helicopter utilization rates in the world-a reality that many of my constituents living nearby the Downtown Manhattan heliport know all too well,” said New York City Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Now, with Uber operating a new service at the heliport to bring premium customers to and from JFK airport, we refuse to stand idly by and allow private companies to treat our skies above our homes, schools and hospitals in the same way they choke our streets.”

“Every day hundreds of completely unnecessary helicopter trips–most departing from and landing at City-owned heliports–are flown over one of the most densely populated cities in the world,” said Adrian Benepe, board member of Stop the Chop NY-NJ, and former NYC Parks Commissioner. “Most of them are expensive tourist sightseeing flights, but some are also luxury trips to second homes or to the airports. Those unnecessary helicopter flights spew at least 6,000 tons of toxic carbon pollution annually, poisoning the air we breathe and contributing to climate change, and they inflict noise pollution on millions of New Yorkers, impacting our physical and mental health, while endangering New Yorkers with their frequent crashes.”

“Manhattan Community Board 1 has long advocated for elimination of non-essential, commercial flights from the Wall Street Heliport. Flights originating from there pose a real threat to the quality of life in lower Manhattan and may indeed be dangerous,” said Anthony Notaro, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 1.

“The BHA is hopeful that the Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019 will finally bring the relief we and our neighbors have been asking for,” said Lara Birnback, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “Convenience and entertainment for a very few cannot justify 25 fatalities over the past three decades, nor is it a sufficient reason to burden communities across the city with needless air and noise pollution.” 

“Much of Carnegie Hill borders Central Park which is a favored route for helicopter tourism and for commuter flights between New Jersey and airports on Long Island. We welcome this new bill designed to eliminate many of these non-essential flights and sharply reduce noise pollution,” said Lo van der Valk, President of Carnegie Hill Neighbors.

“Given that NYC has experienced at least 30 helicopter crashes since 1980, some fatal (including the recent June 10, 2019 deadly crash and fire on a midtown roof), there is good reason to fear for the safety of New Yorkers, their lives and property. Additionally, there is also the real security worry about helicopters’ potential use in terrorist attacks (unfortunately, we know from experience, that NYC is a target of terrorists).   The proliferation of non-essential helicopters flying low in our airspace is also alarming for environmental reasons. As the city advocates for reducing car and vehicular traffic due to polluting emissions (e.g., enacting congestion pricing, car-free streets, restrictions/caps on for-hire vehicles, and the encouragement of public transportation and bicycles), it is hypocritical to allow one of the least environmentally-friendly modes to transportation to pollute our airspace – not to mention the stress-inducing noise pollution helicopters create as well. It is time we end the Wild West airspace created by the helicopter menace over NYC,” said Melissa Elstein, Secretary & Co-founder, West 80s Neighborhood Association.

“The helicopter traffic is non-stop. It’s like living at Kennedy Airport. It’s unbearable. I’m grateful to Representatives Maloney, Velázquez, and Nadler for truly understanding our plight and coming to our rescue,” said Toba Potosky, President Cadman Towers and Cadman Park Conservancy.