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One day after fatal crash, Brooklyn pols call for helicopter ban • Brooklyn Paper

One day after fatal crash, Brooklyn pols call for helicopter ban

One day after a helicopter plunged into the East River, killing one, Brooklyn pols are stepping up their fight against tourist choppers.
Associated Press / Craig Ruttle

Brooklyn pols were using Tuesday’s East River helicopter crash — even before its victim has been buried — to call for a complete ban on tourist chopper flights that have buzzed Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Red Hook for years.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Councilman Steve Levin and officials slammed the city’s helicopter policy on Wednesday — this time citing dangerous air corridors, not noise pollution.

“The city claims these tours generate needed funds, but at what price!” said Millman (D–Brooklyn Heights). “[This] unfortunate accident demonstrates the urgent need to immediately end tourist helicopter tours.”

In Tuesday’s tragic incident, the chopper just had taken off from the East 34th Street Heliport when it crashed into the river, killing one passenger and injuring the four others onboard.

The private flight wasn’t from the Lower Manhattan heliport that politicians have railed against — but it still stoked anti-chopper advocates.

“Sightseeing and nonessential helicopters are dangerous, unnecessary, and not worth it,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–Coney Island). “It shouldn’t take more senseless tragedy to come to this obvious conclusion.”

The Economic Development Corporation, which oversees heliport flights, would not comment.

Brooklyn residents have been battling choppers since 2010, when a heliport on Manhattan’s West Side shut down and the Downtown Manhattan Heliport — opposite Brooklyn Heights — became the only pad for sightseeing flights.

After locals complained of window-rattling, sanity-testing noise, the city instituted a no-fly zone over the Heights and later over Red Hook. Officials even doled out fines to pilots who flouted the city’s designated routes.

But residents say they’re still plagued by hell-icopters, which take off every few minutes from 9 am to 7 pm.

In May, they rallied to “stop the chop,” but those demands fell on deaf ears. Mayor Bloomberg — an avid helicopter passenger — is unwilling to ban tourist flights, which run from $200 to $900 a pop.

Locals are disappointed.

“The noise from these flights fills our neighborhood with a loud and seemingly endless drone all day,” said Todd Bonne, a Red Hook resident. “And no one is taking responsibility.

“Even after this recent and very unfortunate crash into the East River, I have little faith that it will move any of these agencies to take note.”

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