The Downside: The day-to-day din of helicopters

Living in this neighborhood lately has felt like the director’s cut of “Full Metal Jacket” with the drone of helicopters constantly overhead. And I know I am not the only one – and certainly not the first – to notice this. D. has been keeping me up to date on helicopter traffic over his building on Beach – shooting video and logging the flights. But there is some movement lately — the question is, will it make any difference.

Margaret Chin and other council members have a resolution circulating that asks the FAA to ban non-essential flights over New York City. And now the federal electeds are asking the same thing of the FAA with the Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019 introduced this month. Plus over the past few years, the electeds have tried to limit the number of flights, the kinds of flights and the days flights can go out. Yet complaints are way up across the city — downtown does not even come close as the winner. (Data crunched by Gale Brewer’s office puts us at number seven in the borough, compared to five times the number of complaints in CB6 — the East Side from 14 to 59 — at number one.)

So why can’t the city get a handle on this? Clearly none of these efforts so far have had any teeth.

To prove that, along came Uber. The company that has made our streets nearly impassable may be doing the same thing for the skies. A flight to JFK from Wall Street can be arranged on the app for about $200 (you have to be a ranking rewards member, however). Then there’s Blade Bounce, which offers a seat to all the area airports for $195. So clearly this is going in the wrong direction.

Of course the mayor could just stop leasing the city’s three heliports (Wall Street, East 34th Street and West 30th Street) to operators of commercial flights, and that would almost end the din right there. (Sure, there would be flights from New Jersey, but who ends or starts a trip from there?) So what’s stopping him? There’s really no rationale for supporting helicopters in the city (unless, of course, you ride them). They make very little money for the city, they employ very few people, and they are huge air polluters. Oh, and they crash.

We put up with a lot of quality of life issues to live in this town, but there is something particularly insidious about the drone of helicopter noise. In fact, I can hear it right now as I type. Everyone seems to agree, but no one seems to able to do anything about it. Somehow I don’t think anything will happen with these latest legislative efforts either.