For Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, R-Shoreham, a mandated Long Island Sound flyover route for Hamptons-bound helicopters is a “fix that didn’t fix anything.”
Urged by Sen. Charles Schumer, the a new rule that requires “helicopter pilots to use the New York North Shore Helicopter Route when operating along the North Shore of Long Island.”
“The North Shore Helicopter Route was added to the New York Helicopter Route Chart in 2008 and prior to this action, its use has been voluntary,” the new rule states. “The purpose of this rule is to protect and enhance public welfare by maximizing utilization of the existing route flown by helicopter traffic one mile off the north shore of Long Island and thereby reducing helicopter overflights and attendant noise disturbance over nearby communities. This rule will lapse in two years unless the FAA determines that a permanent rule is merited.”
But residents of Mattituck and nearby communities continue to complain about constant helicopter noise since the early August ruling. After a debate this week at a Federal Aviation Administration symposium of helicopter route at Brookhaven Town Hall, Losquadro said that all the feds did was “squeeze the balloon” of helicopter transitioning paths further east — concentrated over Mattiuck — instead of forcing pilots to fly over the water to Orient Point, then swing around to the Hamptons.
“What is not mandated is the pilots’ transitioning point to cross the island,” he said. “And all pilots are choosing to transition to the Hamptons over eastern Riverhead and western Southold region. In my office, the complaints about helicopter noise have shifted to the east end of my district — the problem there is more concentrated than before.”
People in Mattituck and in other areas of the North Fork transitioning from the North Shore route to heliports in the Hamptons. But even under the new flight path mandate, pilots can transition with their own discretion.
“To the extent a helicopter operator cannot safely fly along the North Shore Helicopter Route, this rule specifically allows for deviation,” reads the FAA rule. “The FAA recognizes the varying capabilities of helicopters, and this rule permits pilots to deviate from the rule for safety, weather, or when transitioning to or from a destination or point of landing. Under § 91.3, the pilot in command is directly responsible for and is the final authority as to the operation of that aircraft. Therefore, if flight along this route places a helicopter beyond the autorotation performance distance to the shore and the helicopter is not equipped with flotation devices, such as life jackets or helicopter floats, the pilot is permitted to deviate from the route and altitude.”
At the symposium, Losquadro debated that this deviation from the law made the North Shore Helicopter mandate moot.
“There is still a disproportionate impact on the North Fork,” Losquadro said. “How can you say a flight path is mandated when it’s discretionary? One pilot in charge has the final say, and obviously the residents of Mattituck and the North Fork are not happy with it.”
See attached PDF of the new North Shore FAA ruling.
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