Listen Up, FAA - It’s the Law

November 19, 2018
Press Release
Op-ed by Congressman Lee Zeldin

From the North Shore Helicopter Route’s planning to its continued use, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has flat out ignored the residents directly affected by the persistent issue of helicopter noise. Established in 2004, the route’s renewal was jammed through again in 2016 without a public hearing or public comment period and against the wishes of those affected on the East End. The FAA and Department of Transportation have sole jurisdiction over the aircraft routes that have impacted these communities, but they have turned their backs on the residents whose quality of life has suffered summer after summer.

On behalf of my constituents, I introduced a bipartisan legislative proposal that became law requiring the FAA to reassess the North Shore Helicopter Route to address the noise impact on affected communities, improve altitude enforcement and assess alternative routes, including an all water route over the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, it would require the FAA to hold a public hearing on the NSR in impacted communities and open a public comment period.

Working across the aisle, I secured House and Senate passage of this proposal, including it in this year’s FAA Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law on October 5, 2018. With the enactment of this legislation, the FAA was now required to hold a public hearing and open a public comment period for my constituents affected by this route, and, in a failed effort to comply with this new legislation, recently held a series of “workshops” across Long Island.

Although the FAA is now forced to listen as enshrined in federal law, these “workshops” have given Long Islanders a bad case of deja vu. These “workshops” fail to comply with the public hearing mandated in this new law, and many strongly believe they were seemingly formatted to stifle the true negative impact of this route.

The FAA was required by law to hold a public hearing within 30 days of enactment of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which was signed into law on October 5th. On the heels of these “workshops”, Senator Schumer and myself each just sent a letter to the FAA Eastern Region Regional Administrator underscoring the fact that these forums fail to comply with federal law and demanding the FAA hold a public hearing immediately.

The FAA must understand the gravity of this situation, the widespread adverse impact the North Shore Helicopter Route has had on so many Long Islanders’ everyday lives, and they will do so by hearing from everyone affected. It is imperative that the FAA schedule this public hearing immediately, and address the concerns and improve the quality of life of impacted Long Islanders.

My message to concerned constituents is this: Don’t allow your family member’s or neighbor’s comment speak for you. Everyone must submit their comment to the FAA on or before January 2, 2019, by visiting the public comment period webpage online here.

Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives.