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BREAKING: City reaches deal to ‘Stop the Chop’

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The constant rumble of helicopter noise over Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO may be over starting today, after the city instituted a no-fly zone for sight-seeing flights over the entire borough.

The move to bar sightseeing helicopters comes after months of complaints from Heights residents about chopper noise stemming from a much-used Lower Manhattan helipad.

The new flight plan could eliminate up to 30 percent of those tourism flights — though news and emergency flights will, of course, continue.

Also, helicopters will no longer be allowed to hover below 1,500 feet.

“This solution was a quick effort to deal with the problem,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who spearheaded the “Stop the chop” campaign after his office was bombarded with complaints. “It is absolutely a good faith effort, but it’s now up to elected officials to keep a close watch on the progress and make sure the plan has the desired effect.”

The Economic Development Corporation oversees helicopter traffic and negotiated the deal with several Manhattan sightseeing companies, which take off from a helipad near the South Street Seaport in rapid succession during the day.

The agency could not be reached in time for our whirring online deadline.

The whole hubbub began after a heliport on the West Side of Manhattan was closed to tourism flights last year, sending more traffic to the downtown location on the East River. And the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1 earlier this year prompted renewed calls for peace and quiet.

Amid the controversy over noise, one problem emerged: Residents complained that 311 operators were not properly logging noise complaints, resulting in difficulty proving that helicopters were a nuisance.

But the deal calls for a streamlined 311 system to allow complaints to be properly tracked. If the tourism agencies screw up, they’ll be fined and may lose their licenses.

In summary, the deal also calls for:

• No short tours: About 20 percent of sightseeing flights are short, four- to eight-minute flights and are “major contributors” to the noise. They’ve been eliminated.

• No sightseeing over Brooklyn at all, but the Brooklyn Bridge itself was spared the ban.

• New tour routes: Pilots will be forced to take off and land toward the south of the heliport, maximizing their distance from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

• No more gas pains: About 10 percent of flights from the Lower Manhattan pad were simply for refueling purposes. Now, fuel will be available at the heliport.

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Reader Feedback

Scott from Brooklyn Heights says:
How can this solve the problem? The helicopters weren't flying over Brooklyn, they were landing less than a mile away. They will continue to land less than a mile away.

These new rules will change very little.

Whoever wrote that first sentence doesn't get it.
April 30, 2010, 7:07 pm
Judy from Brooklyn Heights says:
Scott is quite right. Despite the cancellation of short tours, there are still a lot of of helicopter tours landing and taking off less than a mile away. Water amplifies the noise. Of course, it's good that tours are not flying up the river past Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park but as long as there's a high volume of helicopter traffic at the DMH, residents' quality of life will be diminshed by it.
May 4, 2010, 5:37 pm

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