Complaints from residents over noise from aircraft flying in and out of East Hampton Airport skyrocketed in 2017 after the town-imposed restrictions and curfews covering landings and takeoffs were struck down in court, according to a study released last week by East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc’s office. The study, prepared by consulting firm Harris, Miller, Miller, and Hanson compares noise complaints from the peak seasons of 2015 and 2016, when the town had restrictions in place, to 2017, when no restrictions were in place.
According to the study, total noise complaints more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, going from 24,309 to 49,669. Complaints caused by helicopters went up by 15,955 from 2016 to 2017, an increase of 121 percent, the second-largest percentage increase of the three types of aircraft listed. Seaplanes showed the highest increase, 124 percent, though the actual increase for the much more lightly used aircraft was 3,245. Land aircraft noise complaints went up 5,769, up 82 percent.
While the bulk of the complaints were from East Hampton Town, from both east and west of the airport, a series of maps included with the report shows a number of complaints came in from as far north as East Marion and Orient, and as far west as Aquebogue, with a heavy pocket of complaints coming in from Jamesport. Some complaints were received from as far west as Northville and Reeve’s Park in Riverhead.
Helicopter complaints, according to another map, are specifically clustered around the various approach routes used to get to the airport. The least amount of complaints received from helicopters flying mostly from the city was along a route named Sierra. Helicopters using this route fly parallel to the southern shore, over the water, according to the map, before heading north to the airport.
The Sikorsky S76, which the report terms “a noisy helicopter,” sparked the most complaints received of any make of aircraft. It also made the most flights, the report says.
After the town’s efforts to restrict air noise through its code were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals, in agreement with flight industry advocates, the town petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, unsuccessfully, to hear the case.
The town is now pursuing a Part 161 application with the Federal Aviation Administration to control aircraft noise.