Touring NYC by helicopter is a popular option for those looking to avoid the chaos of the streets and the smells of the subway. But New Jersey lawmakers are looking to put an end to that, because chopper sounds are slowly deafening Earth-bound residents.
Senator Robert Menendez is gathering with local officials today to call for a ban on the noisy aircraft, arguing that in addition to being a nuisance, low-flying helicopters are also a threat to safety: In 2009, a tourist chopper collided with a small private plane over the Hudson River, killing nine.
Last year, Menendez and Representative Albio Sires successfully moved to reduce the hours and volume of helicopter tours departing from a heliport in Jersey City, says the New Jersey Herald.
On the other side of the city, residents flanking the East River have long pushed to silence choppers, with the city capitulating to demands to ban them near Red Hook in 2011. There are still frequent helicopters over areas of Brooklyn, however, and in 2012 some Brooklyn Heights residents asked for the whirlybirds to be moved to New Jersey.
Update, 11:50 a.m. Jeff Smith, vice president of the eastern regional helicopter council, has issued the following statement:
As a recent NYU study definitively proved, the helicopter industry is a critical contributor to our local economy and - as we witnessed after Superstorm Sandy - to our region’s emergency response services. The report found that the helicopter tourism industry generates more than $33 million in economic activity each year and, as all tour operators are based in New Jersey, supports hundreds of local NY and NJ jobs.
The changes being proposed would significantly alter the federally regulated National Airspace system and harm the local New Jersey economy. Our helicopter owners remain committed to working collaboratively with local officials to find reasonable solutions that don’t strip New York and New Jersey of hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars in revenue and vital emergency response services.