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Trump signs bill requiring FAA to re-evaluate North Shore copter route

The president's signature on the FAA Reauthorization Act

The president's signature on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 requires the agency to reassess the North Shore helicopter route. Credit: AP/Frank Eltman

President Donald Trump has signed a bill requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to re-evaluate the North Shore helicopter route — which North Fork residents said has created noise around the area.

Trump on Friday signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, passed by both the House and Senate, into law.

Among other things, the law requires the FAA to reassess the North Shore  flight path and address the noise impact on affected communities, improve altitude enforcement, and consider alternatives such as an all-water route over the Atlantic Ocean. The agency now has 30 days from the president's signing to start a formal review of the route.

The FAA is also required to hold a public hearing on the helicopter route in impacted communities and open a public comment period, both of which must take place within 30 days of the bill's signing. The public comment period must last for at least 60 days.

“No longer can the FAA ignore the concerns of residents as they have from the North Shore Route’s planning to its continued use, while day-to-day quality of life has suffered due to the persistent issue of helicopter noise on the East End," Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said Friday in a statement. "Finally, the FAA is forced to listen."

 In a statement Saturday, the FAA said it "is ready to get to work on the bill’s key provisions."

"The FAA’s Reauthorization delivers a safer, more secure and efficient aviation system to the traveling public and helps fuel economic growth and competitiveness," the FAA said.

"Creating a stronger infrastructure and maintaining American leadership in innovation are priorities for President Trump and Transportation Secretary [Elaine] Chao," the statement said. The signing of the bill into law "authorizes the reliable, predictable funding the FAA needs to invest in these critical priorities."  

John Cullen, 58, a homeowner in the Northville Beach section of Riverhead, said Wednesday the legislation was a “step in the right direction” in providing relief to both him and his neighbors, who have dealt with noise generated by helicopters flying above their properties at low altitudes because of the North Shore route.

“This last summer was ‘the summer of hell,’ ” said Cullen, a member of the Northville Beach Civic Association, noting double-engine helicopters have sometimes flown over his house around 11 a.m., which, he said, “sounded like there was a train coming down the road.”

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