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Reps. Nadler, Maloney, Velazquez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer Announce Legislation to Ban Non-Essential Helicopter Flights Over NYC

NEW YORK, NY  — Today, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), and Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer announced the reintroduction of the Improving Helicopter Safety Act.  

First introduced in 2019, the Improving Helicopter Safety Act would drastically reduce helicopter traffic, improve safety, and cut down on noise pollution by prohibiting non-essential helicopters flight in New York City airspace. Complaints about helicopter noise increased by 130% between October 2019 and October 2020.

“The swarm of nonessential helicopters that fill New York’s airspace doesn’t just produce noxious noise and environmental pollution—they put New Yorkers lives in danger. With 30 fatal helicopter crashes since 1982 resulting in 25 fatalities, it’s clear that New York’s crowded skies are placing both those in the air and on the ground at risk,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “Today, I proudly join my colleagues in reintroducing the Improving Helicopter Safety Act because we can and we must do more to keep New Yorkers safe. New Yorkers bear the costs of these packed skies every day. My constituents, from Lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side, are forced to endure helicopter noise that drowns out Shakespeare performances in the park and pollution that makes it difficult to breathe. For years, we have called on the FAA to impose additional regulations —where they have failed to act to protect New Yorkers, we will not. We must prioritize residents over tourists and put an end to these dangerously low flights over New York City.”

“If you’ve spent any time in New York City, you don’t need me to tell you that helicopter traffic is a serious safety and noise pollution concern,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Nowhere else in the country is the noise pollution from helicopters so bad, or the safety risk to bystanders so high. I have been hearing from constituents all over NY-12 about the deafening noises produced by helicopters. We have been urging the FAA to enact stricter rules for helicopter flights over New York City for years, and they have refused. And so instead of taking no for an answer, we are reintroducing the Improving Helicopter Safety Act.”

“For years, Congressmembers Maloney, Nadler, and I have been adamant on the need to drastically reduce noise pollution and safety risk by banning non-essential helicopter flights over New York City,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “Today, we announced the reintroduction of our bill, the Improving Helicopter Safety Act, to do just that. These flights generate an intolerable amount of noise that greatly reduces the quality of life for many New Yorkers, including in my district from the Lower East Side to Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Red Hook which are right along the constricted East River/Buttermilk Channel tourist helicopter flight path. They also crowd the skies to a dangerous level as we’ve seen result in multiple tragic accidents over the years. This Congress, we are bringing renewed efforts to address this issue once-and-for-all for the sake of all who call our great City home.” 

"The expansion and lack of regulation of helicopters is a nuisance and a safety hazard to the city that can no longer be ignored," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I want to thank Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velazquez, and Jerry Nadler for re-introducing the Improving Helicopter Safety Act. Helicopter flights in New York City largely cater to either a small slice of tourists, or a cadre of elite travelers using them as unregulated charter flights to the city’s airports or to weekend destinations in the Hamptons. In either case, the result is the same, and it is never ‘essential’. New Yorkers need transparency, safety, and an end to helicopter rides being treated as some ‘wild, wild West’ benefitting only tourists and the wealthy."

Reps. Maloney, Nadler, Velazquez will introduce the bill on Monday.

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