NBAA has warned the village of Southampton, on New York’s Long Island, that proposed access restrictions at Southampton Heliport (87N) would violate the town’s federal obligations and be subject to enforcement by the FAA.
On June 23, the village’s Board of Trustees will consider a proposal that NBAA believes would limit operations by each helicopter using 87N to a maximum of three flights per week between July 1 and Sept. 15.
In a June 18 letter to Southampton Mayor Mark Epley and members of the Village Board, NBAA Chief Operating Officer Steve Brown wrote, “As you may be aware, Southampton acquired the heliport from the federal government in 1975. The underlying deed imposed various obligations on the village, including that Southampton ‘use the property for public airport purposes for the use and benefit of the public, on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination.’”
Brown reminded the Southampton officials that the commitments made in the deed – pursuant to the federal Surplus Property Act – remain in effect in perpetuity. Under “well-established FAA precedent, they prohibit the town from imposing operational restrictions on 87N users,” Brown wrote.
“We strongly urge the Board of Trustees to withdraw the proposal from consideration and carefully consult with experienced aviation counsel regarding its obligations in operating the heliport – as well as with heliport users and their representatives – before taking any further actions,” he added.
NBAA and other aviation interests are already pursuing regulatory and legal actions that challenge the legality of noise and access restrictions adopted by the nearby town of East Hampton, NY at its airport (HTO). These include a mandatory nighttime curfew, an extended curfew on “noisy” aircraft, and a limit on “noisy” aircraft of one trip per week during the summer. Brown indicated that NBAA is concerned that the proposal at Southampton is at least in part inspired by the actions of the town of East Hampton.
“Both the Southampton Heliport and the East Hampton Airport are part of a national system of airports, and operational restrictions at these important public-use facilities present a threat to the national air transportation system,” said Brown. “NBAA is committed to ensuring continued safe and unrestricted access to both 87N and HTO.”