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Court upholds FAA rule on East End helicopter noise

A helicopter lands at East Hampton Airport on

A helicopter lands at East Hampton Airport on Aug. 22, 2012. Credit: John Roca

Local officials are praising a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington last week upholding the Federal Aviation Administration's ability to require helicopters to fly over Long Island Sound to reduce noise, saying it opens the door to similar noise abatement efforts in the Hamptons and on the North Fork.

The FAA made an overwater North Shore route mandatory in 2012 -- there are exceptions for bad weather and for helicopters with no overwater safety equipment -- but the federal agency was sued by Helicopter Association International, which claimed the FAA lacked the power to impose the route.

But the court ruled the FAA had the power to protect people living on the overland helicopter routes from the noise caused by those aircraft.

Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said "now that the court has established the FAA's legal authority to protect the public from helicopter noise, it is time for the FAA to provide the same protection to the South Shore as the North Shore by approving a mandatory Atlantic Route," adding such a route could be in place by next summer.

East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said the court decision "is very good news for the Town of East Hampton's efforts to regulate helicopter noise at East Hampton Airport."

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