What About all the Helicopter Noise?

New York's busy airspace can be an inescapable nightmare for residents who experience noise pollution on a daily basis.

February 26, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Helicopter New York City

Ian Morton / Flickr

Concerned about the negative impacts of the noise and pollution caused by helicopter travel in and around New York City, a Brooklyn council member is demanding an investigation into the pros and cons of allowing so much helicopter traffic in the city's airspace. "Council Member Brad Lander put in a preliminary legislative request for such a "'cost-benefit' study after the legislature’s Economic Development Committee took up a bill this week to consider limiting helicopter companies’ use of city-owned heliports to slightly lower-noise vehicles." Gersh Kuntzman reports that according to Landers, the city is putting the interests of "tourists and well-heeled travelers" ahead of residents who deal with the noise on a daily basis.

At a recent hearing, the Economic Development Committee stated that the helicopter industry offers meager revenue for the city, providing only "a few dozen jobs and $2- to $3 million per year in revenue." Council Member Lander contends that "the quite significant human harm of helicopter noise and pollution has not been calculated." Lander suggests a "misery index" to gauge the amount of disruption and distress faced by New Yorkers due to noise and pollution. According to the city's 311 logs, "the number of complaints about tourist and commuter helicopters rose nearly 270 percent, from 840 complaints in 2017 to 3,094 complaints in 2019."

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