April 17, 2024

NBAA Northeast Regional Director Brittany Davies testified this week on the importance of New York City’s helicopter operator community before a city council hearing on numerous proposals that would drastically curtail such flights over the Big Apple.

Agenda items for the hearing before the New York City Council’s Committee on Economic Development included calling for the state legislature to establish a noise tax on “non-essential” helicopter and seaplane operations; a motion to the FAA to ban such charter and tourist flights outright; and restricting operations at city heliports to only electric-powered rotorcraft.

Davies emphasized such actions would significantly harm vital operations and infrastructure that play critical roles not only for the city, but in the regional and national air transportation system.

“New York City is an international hub for commerce and intermodal transportation,” she testified. “The proposed restrictions on helicopter operations at the city’s heliports would be devastating to New York City’s economy, operators, business and workers that contribute to the creation of 43,200 jobs and generation of $8.6 billion in total economic output.”

Further, attempts by the city to regulate helicopter operations over noise concerns could also run afoul of the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) that designates the FAA as sole authority to regulate aeronautical operations.

“While the industry is actively implementing measures to improve safety and community compatibility, we do not believe the city has the legal authority to regulate aviation operations at NYC heliports,” Davies said. “The recent ruling of the Second Department involving East Hampton [Town Airport] stated ANCA specifically applies to all publicly owned facilities and prohibits access restrictions absent FAA scrutiny.”

Acknowledging that safety and environmental concerns predominantly drive such efforts to limit helicopter operations, Davies noted the industry’s ongoing and diverse work toward achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, as detailed through the business aviation industry’s CLIMBING. FAST. advocacy initiative.

These include the development of electric-powered advanced air mobility vehicles and promoting the use of sustainable aviation fuel. “As representatives of the general aviation community, we fully recognize the importance of prioritizing the safety and well-being of New York City residents,” she testified. “Our industry is dedicated to environmental stewardship and innovation.

“NBAA strongly opposes all legislation to ban non-essential helicopter operations as well as any proposal to limit the use of New York City’s heliport system,” Davies concluded. “However, our industry looks forward to continued engagement to identify and implement effective solutions that address concerns while ensuring the highest levels of safety and environmental stewardship.”