Sen. Menendez, Rep. Sires Discuss Tourist Helicopter Traffic with FAA, Local Officials, Residents of Hudson River Waterfront Communities

Sen. Menendez, Rep. Sires Discuss Tourist Helicopter Traffic with FAA, Local Officials, Residents of Hudson River Waterfront Communities

Senator, Congressman press for action from federal authorities; symposium on the issue to be scheduled within a month

NEWARK, N.J. - Windows rattling at day care centers. Helicopter noise heard at 10:45 p.m. Tourist helicopters flying at altitudes half as low as they fly in New York City. Instances of these and other nuisances and hazards were cited as U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (both D-NJ) met today with local residents and officials, as well as administrators from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The meeting followed the call from the Senator and Congressman earlier this month for a ban on tourist helicopter traffic over the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

"Tourist helicopters are directly affecting the quality of life of residents and communities of New Jersey's Hudson River waterfront. Today, we are talking mostly about nuisances that are dramatically impacting the quality of life for these communities," said Sen. Menendez. "But the reality is tomorrow we may be talking about a tragic incident that could have been avoided. The time to act is now. I am committed to exhausting every one of our options in providing our communities along the Hudson River the relief they need."

"We've got to do something about this," said Congressman Sires. "The business of having tourist helicopters at our expense is unacceptable."

Those who participated in today's meeting included: FAA Regional Administrator Carmine Gallo, Russell Halleran, Air Traffic Manager at the Newark Air Traffic Control Tower, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

"Why should we have our quality of life severely impacted when we don't benefit from it at all?" Mayor Zimmer said.

"Something happened this Spring. Since Easter, the number of flights over our communities has been skyrocketing," said Mayor Turner. "Who controls these flights?"

Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano, a retired Hoboken police captain, noted some of the safety concerns. Following a 2011 collision between a small plane and a helicopter over the Hudson River, landing gear was found outside a Stevens Institute of Technology dormitory, said Romano, who was incident commander following the crash.

After being pressed by Senator Menendez and Congressman Sires for action, FAA Administrator Gallo committed to holding a symposium on the impact of tourist helicopters within the next month.

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