Assembly rep. Robert Carroll wants to chop down on noisy choppers with fees

Assembly Member Robert Carroll wants to chop down the noise from buzzing helicopters flying overhead.
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Assembly Member Robert Carroll wants to chop down the noise from buzzing helicopters flying overhead.

Thousands of New Yorkers who are now accustomed to working from home since the pandemic are fed up with what they say is near-constant noise from tourist charters and wealthy air commuters. 

Complaints about helicopter noise in New York City have gone up exponentially, from 3,332 in 2019 to 22,800 in 2022, according to Bloomberg’s report on the city’s 311 call center data.

Carroll, from Brooklyn’s 44th district, which covers Park Slope and the surrounding areas, announced today the introduction of a bill taxing non-essential helicopter flights in the city. 

Carroll’s bill would impose both a carbon emissions tax and a noise tax.

The carbon tax would be based on the Federal EPA “social cost of carbon” standard while the noise tax would be either per-seat or per-flight.

Each helicopter produces about 950 pounds of carbon dioxide each hour. The average car produces 22 pounds per hour. 

There are often eight helicopters motoring on the downtown heliport in Manhattan at any time. Eight choppers idling on the heliport produce the equivalent of what 340 cars idling do. 

These flights can be flying for various reasons — including tourists on trips looking for the perfect selfie, travelers heading to the Hamptons, or commuters looking to skip the traffic on their way to the airport.

“The proliferation of helicopter flights over the City harms both our environment and our health,” said Carroll. “Taking a helicopter from Manhattan to JFK is the height of self-indulgence with no regard for one’s neighbors, fellow citizens, or the well being of the City. When it comes to tourist flights, I know how important tourism is to the city, but I hope visitors will think hard about their choices.”

The bill calls for revenues raised by the taxes to be dedicated to the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, which supports projects that work to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve agricultural resources, protect the State’s water sources, advance conservation efforts, and provide recreational opportunities. 

Initial estimates suggest approximately $17.5 million will be generated in taxes in the first full year the bill is effective.

A proposed law that would allow New Yorkers to sue companies for excessive helicopter noise got the go-ahead from both houses of the state Legislature last June. 

Exempt from Carroll’s bill are flights for purposes like construction, law enforcement and emergency services, news helicopters and flights for research, and aircraft following Federal Aviation Administration rules. 

The 56,000 annual tourist flights around NYC, have a conservatively estimated carbon footprint greater than 6,000 metric tons. 

As of 2022, the average full-price ticket for a 15-min ride is approximately $235, which includes the city tax of approximately $35.

“I believe these nuisance flights should be banned, but until that happens a policy like this is needed,” added Carroll.

For continuing coverage of Robert Carroll’s bill, head to BrooklynPaper.com.