Tags Posts tagged with "Federal Aviation Administration"

Federal Aviation Administration

Birds chirping, kids playing, barbecues firing up are just the typical sounds of summer in suburbia. 

Though with summer season close by, many residents living along the North Shore will once again have to contend with increased helicopter traffic and noise due to a known helicopter route that flies directly over the heads of many residential communities.

Despite the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 signed into law by President Donald Trump six months ago, which would require the Federal Aviation Administration to reassess the North Shore Helicopter Route, many residents and elected officials feel that the FAA hasn’t taken enough action on the issue and argue that the public workshops held in November 2018 on Long Island were inadequate. 

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) sent a letter to the acting regional director of the FAA, Maria Stanco, on May 10 stating the agency should take immediate action to address the aircraft noise on the North Fork. This is Zeldin’s second letter to the FAA calling for them to comply with the legislation’s requirement to hold real public hearings in the communities impacted by the North Shore route. 

“The ‘workshops’ held on Long Island last year did not meet the clear mandates of the law and insulted my constituents,” Zeldin stated in the letter. “The use of the questionable, insufficient format not only silenced the voices of the public but was perceived as a clear attempt by the FAA to diminish the serious impact of the NSR and the negative quality of life impacts that resulted to the North Fork.” 

In preparation of the workshops held in November, the FAA accepted public comments from residents, where 337 people responded. 

John Cullen of Riverhead left a comment in February asking what the FAA thinks of the 336 comments and will there ever be a public hearing held by them.  

“Not a single aircraft lands on the North Shore, yet the commercial helicopters need to fly over 18 miles above homes which includes northeast Queens and northwest Nassau County,” he said.

Tim Sinclair said the current practice of helicopter traffic across the Southold area is terrible. 

“An all-water route that avoids crossing Southold and the bay that separates the North and South Forks is needed,” he said in a comment online. “Helicopter traffic is constant and especially noted on Fridays en route to the South Shore and then again on Sunday leaving the South Shore headed north. In between there is constant traffic and low-flying helicopters as well as private jets.”

“The use of the questionable, insufficient format not only silenced the voices of the public but was perceived as a clear attempt by the FAA to diminish the serious impact of the NSR and the negative quality of life impacts that resulted to the North Fork.”

— Lee Zeldin

Sinclair has complained many times about the helicopters but said the FAA requires tail number identification “which is nearly impossible for most civilians to observe and record,” he said in a comment. “Moreover, aircraft comes through at low altitudes below 500 feet creating a terrible noise upsetting people, animal and wildlife in the area. This disregard for quality of life and the peaceful enjoyment of the residents of Southold is a crime. An alternate all-water route is needed for both peace and quiet as well as public safety.” 

The North Shore Helicopter Route was created in 2012 and originally had a two-year duration set to end in August 2014. It was again extended for another two years, and in the summer of 2016,  it was extended for four years. Zeldin said the FAA used questionable “emergency authority” to extend the timeline of the route. The latest extension is set to expire on August 6, 2020. 

Zeldin’s office said the congressman has requested other U.S. representatives assist in addressing the issue. He has maintained the FAA needs to consider an all-water route over the Atlantic Ocean, and has not yet received a response from the federal agency.

Jim Peters, FAA spokesperson, said in a statement that they will review Zeldin’s letter, which they received on May 14, and then respond to him directly. 

Earlier this month, the FAA extended the use of alternative noise relief routes that shifted traffic away from neighborhoods in northeast Queens. Zeldin said this is great news for suffering residents in those areas but a slap in the face to the North Fork, which has sought similar relief for years. 

“Actions by your agency to provide relief to select communities impacted by the deeply flawed North Shore Route while ignoring the pleas of others is unfair and inequitable,” the congressman said in his letter. “The residents of the North Fork do not live near any helipads or airports and receive only the negative impact of noise and none of the economic benefits associated with the air traffic that greatly increases over their homes during the summer high season. If the FAA is willing and able to provide noise relief to New York City communities suffering from the NSR through regulatory action, it must swiftly and immediately take the same action for North Fork residents.”

Similarly, on Long Island, there are plans for a new luxury helicopter shuttle to the Hamptons where residents on the East End have also been trying to reduce helicopter noise in the area. 

Wheels Up, a membership-based private aviation company, announced earlier this month that the summer shuttles will run from mid-June through August.

by -
0 1288
Photo from Flickr/David Rodriguez Martin

As a community newspaper, we find ourselves tossing around the phrase “NIMBY” — standing for “not in my backyard” — from time to time. But it’s usually more of an expression, and a negative one, than a literal translation of residents resisting something from going into their actual backyards.

But in the case of drones, NIMBY could not be taken more literally.

Call them drones, call them unmanned aircraft systems — either way, the public perception of these flying devices is still developing as they buzz around the skies.

Huntington Town attempted this week to ground concerns over these drones when it introduced a resolution that would regulate their use for the betterment of public health, privacy and safety “so that operation of same is respectful of community standards [and] the concerns of residents, as well as protect property and privacy rights,” the resolution said.

Huntington wasn’t alone in its efforts to come out a step ahead of drone regulation, either. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and several other elected leaders have been banging the drone drum for months now, calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to require drones to fly below 500 feet and limit where they can fly.

While we understand the legislative urge to keep an eye on the sky for the sake of public privacy and safety, we hope our public leaders don’t turn the drone debate into a droning drain on resources.

There are several things to consider when it comes to drawing the legislative line for drones. At what point would new laws encroach upon our personal freedoms? Whose job is it to regulate them? Does the regulator depend on how high the drone flies or what jurisdiction is underneath it? Should regulations vary based upon the type of drone?

Moving forward, our local municipalities should not jump the gun. Officials should properly investigate all the nuts and bolts of the drone industry and be careful when determining where governments should step in.

Flying a drone is not like flying a kite, and we, like many of our neighbors, are concerned about personal privacy and public safety. All we ask is that our elected officials consider the whole subject carefully before inking laws.

Photo from Flickr/David Rodriguez Martin

Huntington officials have their eyes on the skies.

The Huntington Town Board voted to schedule a public hearing that would regulate the recreational use of unmanned aircraft systems “so that operation of same is respectful of community standards, the concerns of residents as well as protect property and privacy rights,” according to the resolution authorizing the hearing.

Huntington Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), who sponsored the measure, said he was inspired to do so in part by an experience he had shooting a promotional town video outside.

“And lo and behold up above, a drone,” he said.

Cuthbertson said he couldn’t tell who was operating the device.

“It all could be for very benevolent purposes, taking pictures of the boats on the water, but it could be something more nefarious,” Cuthbertson said. “You don’t know. So I think we need to at least start a discussion of how these things are used and what they’re used for.”

The proposed law defines an unmanned aircraft, also known as a drone or a model aircraft, as “a non-human carrying aircraft weighing no more than 55 pounds, capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere intended exclusively for sport, recreation, education and/or competition and is typically guided by remote control or onboard computers.” Restrictions would apply to all properties in the unincorporated parts of town — residential, commercial and otherwise.

Under the new rules, if approved, no one would be allowed to use the aerial devices to collect images or information on individuals, homes, business or property at locations where there is “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” That conduct would be prohibited unless permission is obtained from the individual property owner or manager.

It would also be illegal to pilot an unmanned aircraft on private property or town property without the owner or the town’s consent; pilot an unmanned aircraft that interferes with manned aircraft; or pilot an unmanned craft outside the operator’s visual line of sight.

The new rules would prohibit piloting an unmanned aircraft higher than 400 feet from the ground, near or over unprotected persons or moving vehicles at a height less than 25 feet from same; operate the devices under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol; use the devices in adverse weather such as high winds or reduced visibility; or pilot an unmanned aircraft near or over sensitive infrastructure or property like power stations, sewage treatment facilities and heavily traveled roadways in Huntington Town.

Those who violate the proposed law could be punished via a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for up to 15 days.

The board voted to schedule the public at its meeting on Tuesday. Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) was the only one who voted against the measure.

“I think it’s premature, at best,” she said, noting that she had questions about how this law would be enforced and whether it would interfere with the Federal Aviation Administration or other jurisdictions looking into the matter.

In an interview after the meeting, Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), who seconded Cuthbertson’s resolution, said it was worth it to start the conversation with a public hearing.

“It’s a problem,” he said. “Bring it up, let’s air it.”

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the FAA to employ sweeping drone regulations, including limits on how high the devices could fly and where or when they can be used. He and several other lawmakers zeroed in on drone regulations after an incident in which a drone operator flew an aircraft onto the White House property in Washington, D.C.

The FAA released several proposals for the usage of drones, requiring them to fly below 500 feet, away from airports and other secure airspaces and more, which Schumer applauded as a step in the right direction.

“Overall, the American public is a lot better off today with the FAA’s proposed drone regulations than we were yesterday, particularly related to the safety of our air travelers,” he said in a statement in February. “However, I will continue to work with the FAA to expand eligible commercial uses for drones and further protect privacy and safety.

The town board public hearing will take place on July 14 at 2 p.m.