This week, New York City Council Member Mark Levine introduced a resolution calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban all non-essential helicopter travel over New York City.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Council Members Rosenthal and Chin and supported by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, comes after another high-profile helicopter crash in June took the life of the pilot and caused significant damage to a midtown skyscraper. This latest accident marked the thirtieth crash of a non-essential helicopter and twentieth death over the past several decades in New York City airspace.
“The use of helicopters for non-essential travel over New York City has proven once again to pose a serious hazard to not only those in the aircraft but also to the general public,” said Council Member Levine. “These flights are run solely for the benefit of the private operators and the few passengers with the means to afford the expensive ticket. They are loud, they pollute our air, and have no value to the public. That is why we are calling on the FAA to immediately ban these flights in New York City airspace.”
Council Member Levine’s call to ban non-essential helicopter flights is supported by members of New York City’s congressional delegation and follows a letter they sent to the FAA and Mayor de Blasio in June calling for a similar ban on helicopter flights and the closure of helipads to private operators.
The city does not have the authority to ban helicopter flights and would rely on the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which regulates US airspace, to disallow non-essential flights. While this limits the city’s options, the Mayor does have the authority to prevent private operators from using helipads within city limits through the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
“With this resolution we are calling for a complete ban from the FAA but that process will undoubtedly take time,” said Council Member Levine. “In the meantime, the Mayor has the authority to significantly reduce non-essential helicopter flights right now by not allowing private operators to use helipads in the city. The Mayor has said he supports the ban in the past and needs to follow-through by taking the actions available to the city and closing off the helipads to these flights.”
The resolution is co-sponsored by Council Members Rosenthal and Chin and supported by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
“Helicopters pose a serious risk to New Yorkers, one that we have recently been reminded of with the helicopter crash in Midtown in June that left one dead,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank Council Members Levine, Rosenthal and Chin for taking steps towards banning non-essential helicopters over New York City.”
“I am proud to join Council Member Levine in introducing this resolution calling for an FAA ban on all non-essential helicopter travel over New York City and the closure of our helipads to private operators. Despite years of continued complaints from my constituents about roaring helicopters overhead, the tourist helicopter industry remains unresponsive to the needs of New Yorkers. The 2016 agreement between the City and industry reduced the overall number of flights, but the industry simply has not addressed the fundamental safety, quality of life, noise, and air pollution issues we are facing. The status quo is unacceptable—and my colleagues and I are committed to changing it and delivering real relief for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).
“The fatal crash in Midtown Manhattan earlier this summer further illustrated the danger that non-essential flights pose to New York City,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “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. 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. I am proud to join Council Members Levine and Rosenthal on a Resolution calling on the Federal Aviation Authority to ban all non-essential helicopter travel in New York. However, we cannot wait for Federal action to provide relief. I call on the Administration to partner with us on our effort to provide relief to the hundreds of New Yorkers dealing with the air pollution, noise and adverse quality of life impacts caused by this industry.”