By Carol Tannenhauser
“[On Friday], the New York State Legislature passed the ‘Stop the Chop’ Act (S.7493A/A8473A), sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried of Manhattan,” a release from Assembly Member Gottfried’s office announced. “This bill will reduce the number of non-essential helicopter flights across Manhattan and allows for compensation for noise pollution by rotorcraft. Having passed both houses, it will be sent to Governor Hochul for her signature.”
New Yorkers filed 21,620 complaints about helicopter noise to 311 in 2021, more than double the 10,359 filed in 2020, according to the Daily News. “And 2020′s figure was triple the 3,332 chopper noise complaints filed in 2019, city data show. One third of the complaints filed last year were from the Upper West Side.”
“After years of advocacy and numerous false starts at every level of government, this is the first state legislative effort to reduce helicopter noise in New York State,” the release continued. “The ‘Stop the Chop’ Act will allow the New York Attorney General and those whose use and enjoyment of their property or public parks a cause of action against helicopter companies that create an unreasonable level of noise at ground level.”
“It is our hope that the threat of a lawsuit will stem the plague of sightseeing flights coming from New Jersey that hover over Central Park and ruin the park for thousands of residents and tourists for the enjoyment of a select few,” Assembly Member Gottfried said. “Our ‘Stop the Chop’ Act will also prohibit use of the Hudson River Park heliport by helicopters that engage in sightseeing.”
Both he and Senator Hoylman thanked “the numerous New Yorkers, advocates, our colleagues, and other elected officials who helped get us this far, especially ‘Stop the Chop NY/NJ’ for its unrelenting advocacy on this important issue.”
Thanks to Sue Susman for the tip.
I’m confused – this passage does not prohibit helicopter flights over the UWS, so what will it change? Didn’t whoever wants to attempt to sue these companies already have the right to do so?
The state cannot prohibit flights over the state. However, this strengthens the effectiveness of civil lawsuits, apparently modeled after what began in Texas. Previously, there was nothing codified in civil law that would support the kinds of lawsuits that the bill authorizes.
In my younger angrier times, I’ve fantasized about hiring a chopper to hover over Gracie Mansion for a few hours, so mayors know how annoying it is.
I’ve calmed down since then.
This is a step in the right direction and kudos for it. But I think we should be realistic about how small a step it is.
This bill only “bans” these tourist flights originating from the Hudson River heliport, which now can only be used for approved transportation purposes.
But most of the tourist flights operate out of Kearny, NJ. The airspace is regulated by the FAA, which is a Federal agency.
More interestingly (and perhaps troublingly to some) it uses the same logic that underpins the Texas anti-abortion law by allowing people to sue for some unspecified level of noise pollution. Creating a legal avenue to sue for noise pollution is both fascinating and a pandora’s box.
72RSD, you’re absolutely right. It’s the flights that come from NJ and hover over Central Park that can ruin our public park. Legal minds of NYC please unite! We need a way to stop those tour operators from NJ profiting at the expense of NYers who just want to enjoy their own park.
Wrong Lisa, please don’t spread misinformation that its the NJ flights solely to blame. ….30,000 tourist flights come from the downtown manhattan heliport (they fly higher). 10,000 from Kearney, which fly low, some doors off. Another 20,000 commuter flights to all 3 heliports, flying low and ruining our lives from 6 am to 11 pm. This bill does literally nothing, changes nothing and allows bought politicians to pretend they are doing something.
Again, this bill changes literally nothing. It exempts helicopters ‘following FAA rules’. What a joke – the FAA literally HAS no rules for flying over our homes and parks and schools. If ever there was a blatant example of corruption in the NY political system – here it is.
It’s not just over the park.. It’s everywhere throughout Manhattan. A nightmare. Bad enough having those screeching ’emergency’ ambulences everywhere all night and day! Lets have some sanity return to the city. Please.
this is good news, I guess. But far worse than the occasional helicopter clatter is the nightly motorbike cacophony that continues to plague the UWS. Would love an update on police crackdowns on that.
That issue is TOTALLY NYPD, Helicopters much more complex issue.
It’s like Mad Max out there. And nobody does anything about it.
Always fascinating when people like adam i generalize based on what affects them. Is motorbike noise “far worse” than helicopter noise? My guess: the former is “far worse” for some people (obviously including Mark) while the latter is “far worse” for others. Why do people have to discount other people’s troubles when rightly noting their own? Each of these problems is quite serious for those affected.
Thank YOU to our NY Reps and Stop the Chop.
Definitely a step in the right direction but we need a federal law in order to stop these jersey tourist helicopters, currently buzzing over my head,
Wow, a wonderful first step and visibility raising act. More to be done and collaboration will get it done.
This bill does NOTHING. It is political theatre in an election year. It ONLY allows the NYSAG office to open a civil investigation and then possibly a civil lawsuit to try and stop, more likely very slightly adjustment the helicopter/aircraft overflights. Something anyone could have done at any time previously to this bill being passed.
It should be noted that the FAA is a federal agency, and it alone controls the skies over the country. The air over NY/NJ is very crowded, hence the reason why they helicopters are required to stay below a certain height.
There are four airports, EWR, LGA, JFK and TEB, any changes to these flight-plans would require action by the FAA and congress to pass new FAA regulations, as they do every year. But these regulations take years of study and hearings as there are huge safety concerns to take into account before flight paths of any aircraft are changed.
There are also wind and other weather regular and/or historical, conditions
that must be taken into account before any FAA changes are even proposed, let alone the months of public hearings in Washington, before they are even considered for implementation.
The helicopters fly from heliports, not airports (they don’t need the runway).
This is too good to be true!!!
These helicopters have been a cancer on this city for years!!!
Thank you Brad Hoylman and Richard Gottfried!!! You’ve earned my future votes!!!
In ten years, the flights have only increased, with choppers coming from Boston and Phillie, Bridgeport and the Hamptoms to fly over our city and Central Park. They’ve been allowed to turn off their transponders so we can’t even know who is up there or monitor how low they fly, sometimes as low as 500 feet. There had also been an alarming increase in small airplanes meandering over the city. What happened to Homeland Security???? Why are aircraft from other states allowed to joyride in our air space? Why can’t the people of NYC have peace?
500 FT? Try 250. Low enough to feel the rotor wash, right over Riverside Drive.
Now if they could stop the loud motorbikes and 4 wheelers at night going up Broadway — that I would be excited for!
This state bill will do little to stop this outrageous assault on our homes, neighborhoods and public parks.
We need federal laws that will force the FAA to ban these helicopters over Manhattan.
Vist the “ stop the chop” website to get information on how you can help by contacting your NY congressman and senators to demand action on this problem.
Do they care?! They sure as hell haven’t up till now? This is only getting worse and they have no power to do anything… It’s a federal thing.
The mayor and the city can – overnight at the stroke of a pen – ban all tourist and commuter choppers from using the city’s heliports. That still leaves the 10,000 tourist flights from NJ but will be a reduction of 80% of helicopter noise – overnight.. The poweres that be heve deliberately complicated this issue to include federal legislation (not gonna happen – see guns / healthcare) while conveniently skirting the action that they can take – stop the city heliports from accepting tourist and commuter flights.
Hope Hochul signs it. Long overdue
While they’re at it, how about some emergency vehicle siren legislation. There should be training on how to use those infernal noise machines, with guidelines on how not to break the peace for local inhabitants. I’ve noticed that fire trucks tend to use their sirens on an ‘as needed or useful’ basis, switching them on and off regularly depending on the situation. Private ambulances tend to leave theirs running continuously for many minutes at at time, over long distances. It really only takes a blast every once in a while to let everyone around know that you need to come through.
This is a civic as well as personal victory. I’m one of those complainants who doggedly called 311 as recently as yesterday! Thank you Assembly member Gottfried.
Finally! We are past due for some good news like this.
I live on the Upper West Side and have been going crazy with the continuous & incessant helicopter noise. Every fifteen minutes I can see and HEAR them as I’m planting flowers or “trying” to relax on my terrace. I’m eighty years old and this has become intolerable. I’m very glad something is finally going to happen!
This is a good first step legislation for addressing the harmful effects of noise created by tourist/sightseeing helicopters. We urge Governor Hochul to sign Senator Hoylman’s and Assembly Member Gottfried’s bill into law.
Stop the Chop NY/NJ also continues to support the federal legislation introduced by NY Congressmembers Nadler, Maloney and Velazquez (H.R. 1643 and H.R. 7769 – “The Improving Helicopter Safety” and “The Helicopter Safety & Noise Management” Acts, respectively). We urge Congress to pass these bills. Additionally, we continue to support ending the concession agreements of the nonessential (tourist/sightseeing and commuter/charter) helicopter companies based in NYC, and closing the heliports located in NYC and NJ to this type of nonessential helicopter traffic. Mayor Guiliani closed the East 60th Street Heliport in 1999 due to neighbors’ complaints of air and noise pollution. Our UWS (and other neighborhoods’) complaints should be honored as well.
Please sign our petition, sign up for the newsletter, volunteer with us, follow us on social media, etc at http://www.stopthechopnynj.org – we are a grassroots nonprofit and currently comprised of all volunteers.
The helicopter tourism business are flying under VFR and have a lot of discretion as to where and when they fly. Most fly short and direct to Manhattan without even considering the neighborhoods they fly over . It’s all about the money. They like to run on short intervals of time . The more tourist, the happier they are. Just think , all for the few to take a photo of their feet! What a joke !