WASHINGTON, DC - Following a conference call with FAA Eastern Regional Administrator Carmine Gallo, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires today announced an agreement to reduce both the flight hours and the number of helicopters operating out of Paulus Hook Heliport. Menendez and Sires have been calling for tourist helicopter restrictions to protect quality of life and safety in New Jersey communities along the Hudson River. Gallo also agreed to convene a technical meeting within the next month to develop a broader plan to address these concerns.
"I appreciate the FAA's efforts in response to our concerns about tourist helicopters flights, and I'm glad that the Paulus Hook heliport operations will be restricted from operating at night and limited to only operating one flight at a time-particularly given that the operator already lacked the approvals needed to operate more than one flight simultaneously," said Sen. Menendez. "But there is still more work to be done to ensure tourist helicopter flights don't continue flying over New Jersey riverfront communities at unacceptable altitudes. It is my hope that this work is done as quickly as possible, and that any other interim steps to protect the quality of life and safety of New Jersey residents are taken expeditiously."
"While I am pleased that the FAA is taking steps to reduce helicopter flights and the hours during which they occur over New Jersey, there is still much to be done," said Congressman Sires. "I expect the FAA to begin working immediately with government officials, industry stakeholders, and members of the community living along the Hudson River waterfront to find ways to mitigate flight patterns so that residents in the 8th Congressional district can once again have peace of mind."
As a result of repeated concerns raised by Menendez and Sires, the FAA, working with Goldman Sachs, which owns the Paulus Hook Helipad, and the helicopter operations council, brokered an agreement to ensure that the Paulus Hook helicopter operation conforms to its agreement with the State of New Jersey and limits its helicopter flights to one helicopter at a time, instead of three at a time, which it had unilaterally decided to operate. Additionally, hours of operation will be restricted to Monday through Saturday, 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Sunday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., instead of 11:00 P.M. which had caused such disruption in resident quality of life.
"I thank Administrator Gallo for taking the time to speak with us today and for ensuring that the operation of the heliport at Paulus Hook conforms to its agreement with the State of New Jersey.This is a great first step in reducing noise and nuisance over our New Jersey communities," said Senator Menendez. He added, "I look forward to other interim steps that we can take until the issue is totally resolved and our communities on the Hudson River can return to a sense of normalcy."
On July 29, Menendez and Sires met with local residents from affected communities, local officials as well as representatives from the FAA to press for a solution to the noise and traffic from tourist helicopters flying at altitudes half as low as they fly in New York City and as late as 11 in the evening. At the end of August, the FAA held a symposium at the request of Menendez and Sires on the impact of tourist helicopters. In late September, the pair wrote Regional Administrator Gallo and again called for a helicopter flight restriction plan that could be swiftly implemented and would include fewer flights as well as keeping flights further from shore, higher in altitude, and with strict adherence to time constraints while keeping public safety as a paramount concern.
Also engaged in the efforts to protect Hudson river waterfront residents' safety and quality of life are Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Guttenberg Mayor Gerry Drascheff, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, West New York Commissioner Carridad Rodriguez, Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason and Hudson County Freeholder Chairman Anthony Romano.
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