LIers seek FAA study of copters

The Federal Aviation Administration will study helicopter flights over Long Island, particularly focusing on noise and safety issues, if Congress approves a measure amended by Rep. Tim Bishop and scheduled for a House vote today.

"Suffolk County residents are tired of the roar of helicopters invading the serenity of our island, and frankly, so am I," said Bishop (D-Southampton). "Right now, it feels like there are two sets of parkways: one on our roads, the other over our homes. That is unacceptable."

Bishop's office announced yesterday that he successfully amended the FAA Reauthorization Act, which prioritizes spending at the agency over the next four years. It is expected to pass the House.

Earlier this summer, Smithtown residents like Craig Cooper complained of helicopters that fly so low they often rattle windows and furniture and make it hard to hold a conversation.

"It really becomes intense," he said.

Bishop press secretary Will Jenkins said complaints have come from across Long Island, from Queens to Montauk, although areas like Mattituck, Kings Park, Southampton, Mastic and Shirley in particular have reported problems.

Sen. Charles Schumer has been leading a similar effort in the other chamber, where he has drafted a provision to reduce helicopter noise that will be considered if the authorization passes the House.

Bishop's office said the FAA has not regulated helicopter noise since the 1980s. Allowing pilots to use their own discretion has proved ineffective, he said, and his amendment requires the FAA to submit a report to Congress within six months.

FAA officials have said helicopters are not limited to specific routes like fixed-wing aircraft and that their altitude is not regulated.

"This study is a necessary first step towards the goal of reducing helicopter noise over Long Island," Bishop said. "While I appreciate that some helicopter pilots make an effort to reduce noise levels over our communities, there are simply too many repeat offenders for this matter to continue to go unregulated."