Regional Issues

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Long Island Helicopter Routes

August 13, 2012

With over 15,000 helicopter operations a year, the Long Island New York area is of critical importance to the business aviation community. Due to the noise sensitive nature of the area, helicopter operators work continuously to implement quiet flying procedures. In an effort to reduce noise, there are a number of both voluntary and required routes in the area. This page is intended to provide information on current helicopter routes in the Long Island area. Operators should always check NOTAMs and current aeronautical charts in advance of their flight.

Helicopter Route Over North Shore of Long Island Now Mandatory

On August 6, 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandated that helicopter pilots flying to and from New York City and eastern Long Island must follow a route along the north shore of Long Island that tracks up to a mile offshore for much of the trip.

The FAA issued a final rule requiring this route in response to noise complaints from residents.

Under the new rule, pilots must follow a corridor that extends between North Hempstead and Glen Cove in western Long Island, and runs over Long Island Sound to eastern Long Island and the upscale Hamptons area. Pilots must fly at an altitude of at least 2,500 feet while over land and 3,000 feet during the offshore transit.

The ruling, which bars helicopter traffic over much of Long Island, comes after a push by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who was responding to noise complaints from residents citing helicopters as the source. For several years, Schumer has spearheaded a move to force helicopter pilots to fly routes away from the island’s most populated areas.

The FAA mandate, which takes affect on Aug. 6, requires pilots to follow a corridor that extends between North Hempstead and Glen Cove in western Long Island, and runs over Long Island Sound to eastern Long Island and the upscale Hamptons area. Pilots must fly at an altitude of at least 2,500 feet while over land and 3,000 feet during the offshore transit.

NBAA and other groups such as the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) are opposed to the new rule as the route may actually lead to an increase in noise complaints due to noise sensitive areas it transitions. In addition, use of the route will also increase fuel consumption and may pose a safety risk for some smaller helicopters during bad weather.

The final rule requiring use of the route is effective until August 6, 2014. NBAA and other stakeholders are continuing to advocate that FAA reconsider the rule as the agency failed to indicate any safety need or efficient use of airspace in justifying the need for the rule. Also, there is a concern that this type of action could set a precedent for similar rulings, or even legislation affecting not only helicopters, but also fixed-wing aircraft.

Resources

FAA Final Rule: North Shore Route (266 KB, PDF)

FAA Training Video: North Shore Route

NBAA Article: Aviation Groups Oppose FAA-Mandated Long Island Routes