Like economy, choppers are down
By Julie Shapiro
One upside of the dismal economy and rainy weather is that fewer helicopters are hovering over Lower Manhattan.
The Downtown Manhattan Heliport has seen a 30 percent drop-off in traffic, including tourist and airport flights, the city Economic Development Corp. said. That isnt good for FirstFlight, the heliport operator, but it is much appreciated by residents who dont like the noisy helicopters.
Patricia Ornst, director of aviation for E.D.C., shared the statistic with some concerned residents at a Community Board 1 meeting last month.
While Ornst said she gets complaint calls from all over the city, she has also found hotspots where noise is a problem.
Lower Manhattan unfortunately is considered a hotspot, Ornst told C.B. 1s Quality of Life Committee.
Some pilots leaving the Downtown Heliport near Broad St. take a shortcut over Battery Park, even though they are supposed to fly over the harbor instead, Ornst said. But even if the city identifies pilots that are taking the shortcut, the city cannot impose penalties without changes to federal law, Ornst said.
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler is scheduled to meet with the city, Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders July 2 to discuss how to reduce the noise from helicopters over residential neighborhoods.
To report low-flying or disruptive helicopters in Lower Manhattan, people can call 311 or 800-319-7410. Ornst said its most helpful if callers get the helicopters number, inscribed on its underside, or at the very least the time and place.