HAI and ERHC defend NYC heliports, support AAM

HAI and ERHC defend NYC heliports, support AAM

16-Mar-2021 Source: HAI

Helicopter Association International (HAI) joined the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) and several national and international general aviation organizations on a letter to members of the New York City Council following a recent committee hearing where three bills with major implications for the city’s public use heliports and future advanced air mobility (AAM) opportunities were considered.

The coalition’s letter urges councilmembers to withdraw bills no. 2026 and 2067, citing the illegality of legislating restrictions at the local level as a chief concern. In testimony provided by Jol Silversmith of KMA Zuckert LLC at the February 17th Economic Development Committee hearing, three basic principles of concern were offered.

The first was the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, which was adopted by Congress to prevent localities from adopting noise and access restrictions. The second was the long-standing principle of “exclusive rights,” which sets forth obligations for airports that have received federal aid. The third was federal preemption, which is intended to generally ensure that only the federal government sets rules for the operation of aircraft.

Mr. Silversmith’s testimony was endorsed by the coalition, and supplemental testimony expanding on the three principles was provided in the letter.

The restrictions on helicopter operations at New York City’s three public use heliports that are proposed in bills no. 2026 and no. 2067 would effectively dismantle an invaluable aviation system that is a vital component of the city’s economy, emergency services, and security network.

Tom McCormick, ERHC chairman of the board, explained in his testimony to members of the Economic Development Committee that the bills were misguided and would have grave consequences for the helicopter industry, causing a ripple effect felt by the city. “These recommendations will end the economic viability of the heliports, and I would argue that the economic viability of the heliports extends well beyond the point of sale and the jobs it creates at the local level and the point of embarkation and departure,” said McCormick.

Speaking to the pandemic’s effect on reliance of the City’s heliports in his testimony to the committee, Jeff Smith, ERHC VP of operations and government affairs, said, “What we are seeing is much more commuter traffic now that people are coming from their secondary homes and coming into Manhattan to work and then traveling back.”

The third bill considered by the committee, which would require the city to conduct a study on the safety and feasibility of using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the city fleet, was commended in the coalition’s letter.

The industry letter stated, “We fully support bill no. 2027, which would study the use of electric aircraft by the city. Other major cities are embracing these opportunities and will undoubtedly leverage emerging technologies to attract and retain cutting-edge innovation and their associated industries that are now within reach.”

HAI applauded the Councilmembers for considering legislation that takes steps toward adopting eVTOL aircraft and the benefits of AAM.

“Electric vertical take off and landing aircraft present enormous potential in densely populated cities like New York City,” said Cade Clark, HAI VP of government affairs. “Vertical flight is evolving and transforming in ways that will continue to benefit society, and we are pleased to see the Council is pursuing opportunities that could lead to increased mobility options in the city,” Clark added.

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