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Aviation groups, East Hampton officials seek noise solution

AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.

Bill Dunn, representing AOPA, joined representatives of the National Business Aviation Association and the National Air Transportation Association in presenting East Hampton Airport users’ perspectives to Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez at the Feb. 27 meeting in Washington, D.C.

The associations discussed the effect on their memberships of four proposed municipal laws that will be the subject of a public hearing on March 5.

The aviation groups “expressed serious concern about the direction that this is taking, and the impact on our constituencies,” Dunn said.

According to East Hampton officials, long-unresolved noise complaints saw a significant increase in 2014, with approximately two-thirds of 25,000 complaints (from 633 households) produced by commercial helicopter flights that shuttle passengers between the eastern Long Island community and the New York City borough of Manhattan, Dunn said.

The draft restrictions were offered as interim measures. “The effects of the legislation on the operations at the Airport for the period May 1 to October 31, 2015 shall be evaluated to determine whether the restrictions should be made permanent or modified,” say the texts of the draft laws.

A vote on the proposals, which the township hopes will help meet a goal of reducing complaints by 67 percent, could follow later in March, Dunn said.

One proposed town law would make a now-voluntary 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. flight curfew mandatory seven days a week. A second proposal would redefine “noisy aircraft” as “any airplane or rotorcraft for which there is a published EPNdB approach (AP) level of 91.0 or greater” and ban their use of the airport between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. (EPNdB stands for effective perceived noise in decibels.)

A third proposal—noting that noise complaints “are overwhelmingly attributable to helicopters and jets”—would ban helicopter operations at the airport on weekends and holidays from May through September.

A fourth proposal would prohibit noisy aircraft from “more than two Uses of the Airport by an Individual Aircraft during a Calendar Week, or portion of a Calendar Week, that falls within the Season” that runs from May through September.

AOPA has long supported the efforts of local aviation advocates to work cooperatively for a solution to East Hampton Airport’s noise concerns. In December 2014 AOPA proposed that mediation play a role in bringing the polarized interests together.

During the informal meeting in Washington, D.C., Dunn questioned the seemingly arbitrary noise standard as a basis for flight restrictions.

“The takeaway was that they would go back and look at the 91 EPNdB line they have drawn,” he said. He added that town officials have assured the aviation groups that transient noise issues aside, “the community is supportive of the airport.” That position was also evidenced by the town’s recent request to the legislature for bonding authority for airport improvements, Dunn said.

Public hearings are scheduled on the four proposed town laws on March 5 at 4:30 p.m., at LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Road, Wainscott, New York. AOPA urges pilots to attend the session, and provide testimony on the impact the proposals would have on their flight operations.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airport Advocacy, Advocacy, Aviation Organizations

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