Tag Archives: helicopter noise queens

Whitestone officials pledge action to deal with overhead helicopter noise


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos

Lawmakers at the city, state and federal level met with Whitestone residents this month to address complaints of excessive noise pollution from low flying helicopters and outline courses of action to lessen the impact on the community.

The meetings follow the collection of data from Stop the Chop NY, a website developed by Whitestone resident Dan Aronoff to collect submitted complaints on incidents of disruptive noise from overhead aircrafts. Aronoff has been working with leaders of the We Love Whitestone civic group to call attention to the issue, and the site has collected nearly 1,800 complaints so far since its launch in June, with most originating in northeast Queens.

As a result of the meetings, some officials have agreed to accept complaints from the site at their respective offices, including Councilman Paul Vallone, state Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Congressman Steve Israel.

Officials also offered individual pledges to action, including a plan from Borough President Melinda Katz to invite stakeholders affected by helicopter noise to roundtables discussing the broader topic of aviation noise, and to facilitate additional meetings among elected representatives from Queens and New York City at large.

As part of their course of action, Avella and Simanowitz are currently in talks with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s office to call the FAA’s attention to the issue of helicopter noise pollution.

“There is no reason residents of northeast Queens should be subjected to ever-increasing helicopter noise when alternative flight patterns are available,” Avella said.

Vallone plans to introduce two pieces of legislation. One of the resolutions will call on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to amend a helicopter route along Long Island’s north shore to require helicopters to either fly only over water or at higher altitudes. The second resolution would require the City Council to be notified of annual data relating to the location, routes, rules, regulations and other guidelines that exist pertaining to commercial and tourist helicopter routes.

“The never-ending attack on our quality of life by the helicopter flights across our communities has led our office to start a new united approach,” Vallone said. “Together we discussed ways to address the lack of accountability, data, complaint recording, city, state or federal regulations on this issue.”

According to Aronoff, a meeting with Assemblyman Edward Braunstein will also take place in the coming weeks, and he is expecting to attend meetings in the fall with FAA representatives and helicopter operators. While he expects fewer submitted complaints to the site after the summer due to seasonal decreases in helicopter travel to the Hamptons, he will continue to collect data on his website for later use.

Aronoff said he has received emotionally moving testimonies from users of his site affected by the issue, including music producers unable to hear the nuances of their tunes to mothers of developmentally challenged children disturbed by constant overhead noise.

“There are people who are getting in contact with me as the website developer and telling me how they appreciate what’s going on because it’s become unbearable for them,” Aronoff said. “It’s beyond just quality of life; there are real impacts to people and real lives being affected by this.”

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Whitestone, Malba residents angry over noise from low-flying helicopters


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan / Videos courtesy of Alfredo Centola

A recent helicopter route change meant to spare Long Island ears from a barrage of choppers could be the reason why some parts of Queens are now dealing with the rumble.

“There are days my home vibrates,” said Alfredo Centola, president of the Malba Gardens Civic Association. “Things fall off the shelves.”

Some 1,500 homes in Whitestone and Malba have been bombarded with low-flying helicopters daily, according to local leaders and residents.

On weekends, they say, crisscrossing choppers fly over their homes once every 30 seconds for about 12 hours a day.

“When they get really low, you feel it through your body,” said Joe Bono of Whitestone.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandate last August ordered helicopters flying to and from the city and eastern Long Island to follow a route along the north shore of Long Island between Huntington and the North Fork, according to the National Business Aviation Association.

The ruling came after a push from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and noise complaints from residents, aviation leaders said.

But while it bars helicopter traffic over Long Island’s most populated areas, it directs a higher concentration of choppers to repeatedly fly over Whitestone and Malba, according to the Eastern Region Helicopter Council.

“As a direct result of Senator Schumer’s mandatory North Shore route — which we strongly oppose — the number of flights over the Throgs Neck route has dramatically increased, just as it has over the North Fork communities in Long Island,” said a spokesperson for the Council, Jeff Smith.

Max Young, a spokesperson for Schumer, pointed the finger of blame back, saying the Eastern Region Helicopter Council “has resisted all reasonable efforts” to cut down the noise in order to fly low and save money.

The above water route mandate does not begin until the middle of Long Island, according to the aide.

“The Eastern Regional Helicopter Council is either ignorant, lying or both.” Young said. “They could solve this entire problem by simply flying over water and flying higher, but so far they’ve refused.”

Queens leaders and residents said the helicopter noise has been ongoing for a little over a year but intensified in the last six months.

“You live in a borough with two airports. Living with airplane noise has sort of been a fact of life. That’s bad enough,” said Assemblymember Mike Simanowitz. “You have dozens of helicopters flying over this community on a daily basis. There’s no consideration given to the residents of this community.”

Simanowitz and State Senator Tony Avella said the problem is both a local noise and national safety issue.

“Terrorists are getting smarter and smarter,” Simanowitz said. “Every time we think of a better way to protect ourselves, they think of a better way to strike fear into our hearts. This would be a catastrophic way to do it.”

The pair of legislators has requested a briefing from the Department of Homeland Security and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“The very fact that . . . anybody can buy a ticket and get on, it’s a pretty scary thing,” Avella said.

In a statement, the FAA said it “does not have the authority to prohibit aircraft from flying over a particular area” unless the operation is unsafe.

“It’s getting outrageous,” said Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association. “It’s destroying our quality of life and striking fear into homeowners.”

 

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