Council Members Carlos Menchaca, Helen Rosenthal, and Margaret Chin have been instrumental in pushing forward new legislation, and were co-sponsors of the calls for restrictions of tourist helicopter flights taking off and landing at Downtown Manhattan Heliport. That legislation was given a hearing last November by the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. On Monday 1st February, the New York City Economic Development Corp. agreed to the following terms:
- The heliport concessionaire will prohibit all tourist flight operations from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport on Sundays beginning on April 1, 2016.
- The heliport concessionaire will reduce the total allowable number of tourist flight operations from 2015 levels by 20 percent beginning June 1, 2016; by 40 percent beginning October 1, 2016; and ultimately reaching a 50 percent reduction by the beginning of 2017. Flights in excess of these thresholds will trigger further reductions in tour flight levels.
- Starting in July 2016, the operators will provide a monthly written report to NYCEDC and the New York City Council detailing the number of tourist flight operations conducted out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport as compared to these agreed upon levels. The report will also include information on any tour helicopter flights that fly over land and stray from agreed upon routes over water. A third party firm will be made available to verify these reports periodically.
- The heliport concessionaire has reaffirmed its commitment to prohibiting operators from flying over Governor’s Island while conducting tourist flight operations. Flights over Governor’s Island will subject the concessionaire to further reductions in allowable tour flight levels.
- Although tourist flight operations do not pass over Staten Island, helicopters travelling to and from their home bases outside New York City sometimes do. Effective immediately, the concessionaire will require any such flights over Staten Island to ensure maximum altitude, working in coordination with the air control towers at Newark and LaGuardia airports.
- The heliport concessionaire will establish a system to monitor air quality in the vicinity of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and report monthly on readings to NYCEDC and the New York City Council.
- The heliport concessionaire will make best efforts to curtail idling by tour helicopters at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport during the periods between flights.
- The heliport concessionaire will actively research available technologies to further mitigate helicopter noise, reduce emissions, and promote fuel efficiency, and to implement any such technology as it becomes commercially feasible.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com