East Hampton Town has revoked an airport license agreement with Fly Blade, Inc. — a helicopter company with Manhattan service via the Blade App — at its airport and is requesting a review of the company’s practices.
The Town Attorney’s Office has been authorized to file a complaint with the United States Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, which regulates air transportation services and how they operate, according to a press release issued April 19. The complaint will seek a review of Fly Blade’s practices and their consistency with federal obligations.
“The town faces a steep increase in air traffic through businesses that appear to offer, in advance, scheduled passenger service to the airport, either through smartphone applications or by offering scheduled passenger service to the public directly,” stated Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.
“It has an obligation not just to ensure that the airport remains safe for all users, but also that adequate disclosures are made to the traveling public with respect to commercial arrangements at the airport.”
A disclaimer on Fly Blade, Inc.’s website states it is “neither a direct or indirect air carrier” and that “all flights arranged by Blade are operated by various carriers including Zip Aviation, Helicopter Flight Services, and other DOT licensed operators.”
“Blade fixed-wing flights are currently operated by Lima NY Corp and Altus Aviation LLC. For flights to any destination that are charters of the entire aircraft capacity, Blade acts as the agent of the customer,” the disclaimer states.
Fly Blade has previously violated federal law by engaging in air transportation as a direct and indirect air carrier without economic authority from the DOT and paid a fine of $40,000 as part of a signed consent order, according to the town.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings did not respond to requests for comment.
A request for comment from Fly Blade, Inc.’s press office was not answered.
Representatives from the town have not contacted Fly Blade, Inc. regarding the airport license agreement revocation, according to Sag Harbor attorney Edward Burke Jr., who is representing the company.
“Blade arranges helicopter and seaplane flights to multiple destinations on the East End of Long Island and elsewhere in the northeast in full compliance with all DOT regulations. The company has requested a meeting with East Hampton Town representatives to provide an understanding as to how Blade arranges flights within federal guidelines,” Burke said in a statement released from his office.
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the airport’s co-liaison, described East Hampton Airport as a small, general aviation airport that is not designed for scheduled air service. “The town will not tolerate operators violating the law, especially when the safety of the flying public is jeopardized by unfair and deceptive business practices of operators,” she said.
Councilman Jeffrey Bragman, who also serves as co-liaison of the airport, said until Fly Blade can prove it is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, “they have no place at the airport.”
“Ride sharing of helicopters which masquerades as scheduled service is damaging to our community and small airport,” he said.