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East End group: Revise copter flight path

Flight path changes are over Southampton now instead

Flight path changes are over Southampton now instead of East Hampton, causing all sorts of noise troubles as a helicopter lands at East Hampton Airport. (Aug. 22, 2012) Credit: John Roca

A coalition of 19 East End public officials representing all levels of local government has sent a letter to the acting administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration, calling for changes to helicopter flight patterns to and from East Hampton Airport.

Helicopter noise has long been a problem on Long Island, but a flight pattern change in August, mandated by the FAA to help solve noise issues in Nassau and Suffolk counties, has shifted all flights into East Hampton over homes in Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, North Sea and Noyack on the "northern" route.

"I am hopeful that this letter demonstrates to the FAA the united commitment of elected officials on the East End to relieve the burden of helicopter noise in the lives of their residents," Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said.

The leaders are asking for a "southern route" over the ocean that would reduce the number of flights over the Southampton area.

Before the change, helicopter pilots determined their own routes.

Jeff Smith, chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, said the addition of a southern route would interfere with air traffic around JFK and MacArthur airports.

"We urge the FAA to do what is best for Long Islanders and go back to a proven diversified route plan that dramatically lowers noise complaints and issues for area residents," Smith said in a statement.

A June letter, signed by four East End town supervisors, also asked for other accommodations, including achieving a flight altitude of 3,000 feet as quickly as possible, and empowering East Hampton Airport, as well as Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, to manage the flights.

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