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Manhattan company says its quieter helicopters can fly under East Hampton noise rules

Gotham Air says its Bell 407GX helicopters are

Gotham Air says its Bell 407GX helicopters are quiet enough to fly out to the East End regularly, beginning Memorial Day weekend. Credit: Gotham Air

A Manhattan helicopter company plans to run six reduced-volume choppers between the city and the Hamptons this summer that company officials said will allow it to comply with new anti-noise regulations in East Hampton Town.

Gotham Air, which launched in January, said it will offer charter service to Southampton, East Hampton and Montauk -- using Bell 407GX helicopters -- beginning Memorial Day weekend.

East Hampton officials on April 16 passed three laws designed to reduce noise from air traffic to town-owned East Hampton Airport in Wainscott that will go into effect by Memorial Day weekend. They include an 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew on takeoffs and landings; an extended curfew of 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. for aircraft considered noisy; and a one-trip-per-week limit for noisy aircraft from May 1 to Sept. 30.

Gotham Air chief executive Tim Hayes said the Bell 407GX helicopters are below the 91-decibel threshold the town uses to define noisy aircraft, so they would be exempt from the extended curfew and the one-trip-per-week limit.

"We take the long view, and we want to be a positive part of the community," Hayes said.

Just 8 percent of helicopter flights to East Hampton Airport currently fall below the 91-decibel threshold, according to a recent study commissioned by East Hampton Town.

Gotham contracted with Helicopter Flight Services, which owns the Bell helicopters, last fall as town officials were discussing the regulations. Hayes said the anti-noise talks "absolutely played a part" in the decision to use quieter choppers.

Gotham Air allows customers to book helicopter trips online, and offers flights to the Hamptons starting at $525 to $625.

The company is not involved in a federal lawsuit filed April 21 by several other helicopter companies seeking to block East Hampton's rules from taking effect.

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