The U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives on an agreement to require the Federal Aviation Administration at least consider alternate helicopter routes into and out of East Hampton Airport.
President Trump signed the bill into law over the weekend and the hearings will be scheduled shortly.
It does not mean any change is necessarily coming. Helicopters almost exclusively take the November (North Shore) route, cutting in from Robin’s Island into North Sea/Noyac and following the power lines, though some jets, prop planes, seaplanes, and the like, land from a southerly approach.
The legislation will require the FAA to hold public hearings in all the affected areas, which will include parts of Southold, Southampton, Shelter Island, and East Hampton towns. The FAA has been reluctant to do so.
Though homeowners who complain about helicopter noise have long hoped the copters’ paths would be rerouted south over the ocean, Jeff Smith, the chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, said it wasn’t a slam dunk by any means. “Fog shuts us down,” he said. “In May, June, and July we have a cold ocean and hot air.”
Another problem is the control towers at East Hampton Airport are too low and helicopters approaching from the south are hard to see. “It’s because of where the towers are situated at the airport. They could be raised,” Smith said. Trees would have to be trimmed as well, he added.
“I applaud my Senate colleagues for passing my proposal that requires the FAA to reassess the North Shore Route and pursue an all water route over the Atlantic Ocean,” Zeldin said in a release. “For years, the FAA has ignored the concerns of residents.”
“Congressional attention to the problem of aircraft noise over the East End is certainly appreciated, and warranted,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said.