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Jul 17, 2018 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Helicopters Asked To Split Their Routes To East Hampton

Helicopters have been asked to split their approach and departure paths between north and south routes around East Hampton Airport to ease noise concerns.
Jul 17, 2018 1:20 PM

Helicopter pilots have been asked to voluntarily use two different routes when they approach and depart East Hampton Airport this summer, in hopes of easing noise in certain neighborhoods north and west of the airport.

The Eastern Region Helicopter Council for the first time this summer included the so-called “50/50” request in its annual letter to helicopter pilots throughout the region. ERHC Chairman Jeff Smith said that splitting approach and departure routes has been a longstanding voluntary policy, but that this year the council emphasized it to pilots, hoping to increase its application in real life.

But Mr. Smith also noted that there are substantial issues with pilots using the southern approach routes that mean a true 50/50 split of operations likely will never be possible.

Flights from heliports in New York City, which make up the vast majority of traffic to East Hampton, face several flight restrictions if they set a course east along the south shore of Long Island. As they fly down the Hudson River and over the Verrazano Narrows, they must stay below 500 feet in altitude, because of restrictions on flights through John F. Kennedy Airport airspace.

Helicopters also must stay out over the ocean as they pass the middle of Long Island, to avoid Long Island MacArthur Airport airspace, which is often impossible with summer weather patterns that can create clouds and haze over the ocean while there are clear skies over land.

And as they pass Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, helicopters must communicate with regional air traffic controllers to get permission to fly through the airport’s airspace, because there is not an on-site radar system.

But, Mr. Smith added, emphasizing the 50/50 request has convinced more pilots to use the southern route in or out of East Hampton, and has had even larger impacts on those using Gabreski Airport in Westhampton or the helipad on Meadow Lane in Southampton Village, which has reduced the overall impacts on the north shore.

East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said the spreading out of more flights does not seem to have had much overall impact on the suffering of those under the northern flight paths, however.

“I do think it is probably helping, numbers-wise, but in terms of noise complaints, I doubt it is registering in people’s quality of life,” she said. “When we have these [Visual Flight Rules] days with low visibility, we’re still seeing all of those helicopters coming in on the northern routes.”

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I have noticed that they are flying higher, but haven't noticed a decrease in traffic. When the landing restriction was in place I saw helicopters circling Robins Island at 80 knots and 3,000 ft. You could barely hear them. If they would only slow down to 80 knots and stay up at 3,000 ft agl when turning off the sound over the northville tanks you would hardly hear them and think about all the fuel they would save not going full cruise into HTO. Whats the time deficit like 2 minutes to keep the ...more
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jul 17, 18 3:27 PM
Ban helicopters. We should all experience the misery of auto travel to and around the East End. Ban construction on day a week too so locals can actually travel West.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Jul 17, 18 4:31 PM
Yea , close the bridge right after I go over it .
By dtrain (10), Dallas on Jul 17, 18 8:16 PM
These helicopter companies have only $$$$$ on their mind, the quickest way in to EH airport and the quickest way out to get the next trip.
They have zero feelings for those below as many days if there is a cloud in the way they bring these double engines below 1200 feet and that is very loud and constant especially on a Thursday of Friday afternoons. For those who don`t know the North Shore Route also goes over 90% more homes.
I see that the South Shore route needs to go bye 3 airports ...more
By shredman (11), Northville on Jul 18, 18 11:45 AM