Home News Local News Riverhead supervisor: Helicopter traffic not our burden to bear

Riverhead supervisor: Helicopter traffic not our burden to bear

The helicopter route proposed by Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter in June 2010. (RiverheadLOCAL illustration)

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is calling for the FAA to establish a flight path for Hamptons-bound helicopter traffic that would keep the aircraft offshore for nearly all of their flight.

“Helicopters should fly offshore and go around the point through Plum Gut, then fly over the bay before crossing over the South Fork to East Hampton airport,” Walter said in an interview this morning. “Seventy percent of the helicopter traffic from New York is headed for East Hampton airport,” he said. “They talk about sharing the burden. There’s no reason for us to share this burden. It’s their traffic, not ours. Our airport’s closed.” he said.

“If the FAA has the intestinal fortitude to dictate that as the route, we’re done,” Walter said.

Walter said he proposed this flight path at a June 1 meeting with an aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer at East Hampton Town Hall.

The FAA on May 26 published a proposed rule governing NYC-LI helicopter travel that would require helicopters traveling to and from the Hamptons to follow the north shore route, which keeps them more than a mile out to sea over Long Island Sound. The route is currently suggested for helicopter pilots to follow voluntarily, but the new rule would make it mandatory. The rule as published does not speak to routes helicopters should take to cross the island on their way to the Hamptons airports. Helicopter flights over residential neighborhoods, often at low altitudes, have generated hundreds of complaints from residents.

“Depending on where you are, during summer, a backyard barbecue in Riverhead can sound like a scene from ‘Apocalypse Now’ as well-heeled Manhattanites invade the Hamptons,” Walter said in a press release issued yesterday. “I call upon the FAA to use common sense in establishing flight paths that don’t disrupt the tranquility of a summer’s afternoon.”

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the FAA will not comment on the proposed rule or any suggested amendments to the rule during the statutory 30-day comment period, which ends June 25.

Written comments may be submited online at http://www.regulations.gov. (Follow the instructions for sending comments electronically.)

Comments may be sent by postal mail to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Room W12-140, West Building, Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Supervisor Sean Walter’s proposal for helicopter flight path. Illustration by RiverheadLOCAL.

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