Sharing the concerns of New Yorkers over "excessive helicopter and airplane noise over their communities," Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand posed a challenge to FAA nominee Stephen Dickson before a Senate vote that could confirm his nomination.
In a letter they co-published on Friday, the senators urged Dickson to "make addressing aircraft noise a priority."
“Excessive airplane and helicopter noise harm the quality of life in our communities, and it’s past time the FAA gives our communities the relief they deserve,” Gillibrand said in a news release that accompanied the statement.
Air traffic-related noise pollution has become a concern for many Long Islanders in recent years as helicopter paths in and out of the East End have increased, especially in summer months, and flight paths to Kennedy Airport in Queens have changed due to new technologies and runway construction.
Schumer and Gillibrand question Dickson’s plans to address public comments and noise complaints, which they say have been largely unaddressed in recent months.
President Donald Trump signed in October the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, which requires the FAA to re-evaluate the North Shore helicopter route with public input. The public comment period ended Jan. 2.
“It has been more than six months since the public comment period closed … and it is our understanding that the FAA is still reviewing the 345 comments it received,” the senators wrote.
Schumer and Gillibrand have called on Dickson to improve the line of communication between the FAA and affected residents and other stakeholders, such as town leaders.
The letter also asks Dickson whether he will work to create new flight patterns that would avoid heavily populated residential areas and if he will ensure that noise concerns are incorporated into future FAA decision-making.
On June 17, Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) announced new air traffic regulations designed to lessen the burden of aircraft noise for Long Islanders living below flight paths to and from Kennedy Airport. The regulations were set to be implemented June 24.
The following day, the FAA issued a statement that said implementation of the regulations would be postponed because they required “additional internal evaluation.” The FAA declined to comment further at the time.
Suozzi said he worked with local air traffic control operators and FAA representatives to craft the regulations after FAA representatives in Washington were found difficult to work with.
“New Yorkers deserve a responsive FAA that works for them and is not held captive by the industries it regulates,” the senators wrote to Dickson. “To that end, ensuring your commitment to the well-being of our constituents, whose quality of life has been impacted for too long by excessive aircraft noise, is extremely important to us.”