Congressman Suozzi and Council Member Vallone Call on FAA to Take Alternative North Shore Helicopter Route from Pilot to Permanent
As Northeast Queens residents continue to report significant decreases in helicopter noise throughout the busiest summer months, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island, Queens) and Council Member Paul Vallone are calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make this successful pilot program permanent.
In October 2018, the FAA began a six-month test of an alternative route which shifted air traffic away from Northeast Queens and cut helicopter and seaplane traffic by up to 50 percent. The current six-month extension, which will run through October 2, 2019, is bringing continued relief to the residents of Bayside, Bay Terrace, Malba and Whitestone through the normally more active summertime months.
In 2008, the FAA established the North Shore Helicopter Route as a voluntary path that pilots could take over the Long Island Sound. In 2012, it was mandated that pilots utilize the route when flying to and from the East End, and in 2016, the FAA ruled to keep the route active through 2020.
“I am grateful to the FAA for heeding my numerous phone calls, letters, and personal entreaties to address the helicopter noise in Whitestone,” said Congressman Tom Suozzi. “All reports indicate that the pilot program has resulted in dramatic quality of life improvements for the residents of northeastern Queens. Now, Council Member Vallone, the folks at We Love Whitestone, and I will continue pleading with the FAA to take this very successful pilot program and make it permanent.”
“From Memorial Day to Labor Day and into the fall, Northeast Queens residents will be free to enjoy their backyards, parks and waterfronts without the constant assault of helicopter noise that unfortunately in past years became the norm,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “As this pilot program continues to provide needed relief to the families who call Northeast Queens home, I join Congressman Suozzi in urging the FAA to establish this as a permanent change.”
“Thanks to efforts by our community working along with Congressman Suozzi and Councilman Vallone, the modification of the NSR has achieved a significant decrease in helicopter and sea plane traffic over the communities of Northeast Queens,” said George Mirtsopoulos, vice president of the We Love Whitestone Civic Association. “On behalf of our community, we are grateful for not only this improvement to our quality of life, but also for the reduction of traffic subjecting these communities to the possibility of a more severe incident that could impact the well-being of residents. We urge our elected officials to advocate for a mandatory all water route to ensure the safety of the residents of New York City, which is the desired goal on this issue.”
“Congressman Suozzi and Councilman Vallone, along with George and Carmen Mirtsopoulos of We Love Whitestone and Daniel Aranoff who created STOPTHECHOP.COM, were instrumental in bringing back a serenity and quality of life Northeast Queens residents have known for a lifetime,” said Alfredo Centola, president of We Love Whitestone Civic. “The invasion of Hampton helicopter and small craft traffic truly destroyed our quality of life, especially during our summers. We can now once again enjoy our patios, backyards, pools and summer nights with windows open! We are grateful to no longer be assaulted by air and other harmful pollutants these helicopters and sea planes drop on us.”
“Last summer and the summer before that was brutal. You couldn't even sit outside and enjoy your yard and I was being woken up to the sound of helicopters,” said Doreen Fogarty-Ellis, a Whitestone resident. “I’ve noticed a big difference this summer and I’m so thankful. I support our representatives in their call to make this pilot program permanent so that my neighbors and I continue to see relief.”