Helicopter operations in and around New York could be restricted with the passage of the so-called “Stop the Chop” bill that seeks to ban certain tourist flights and allow people to more easily sue helicopter operators and their employees.
Aviation advocacy groups including the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the Helicopter Association International (HAI) are calling on their members and others to contact New York Governor Kathy Hochul and urge her to veto the bill, which has passed in both houses of the state legislature.
“HAI is urging all New York members to contact Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office immediately to oppose a bill that would allow any person to bring an action against a helicopter owner and operator for creating an ‘unreasonable level’ of noise,” the helicopter association said in a statement.
“Senate Bill S7493A would allow anyone to sue a pilot, flight department, line service personnel, or company employee for alleged rotorcraft noise pollution by a flight operation in the state of New York even if the operation complied with federal law and regulations,” the HAI added.
Efforts to restrict or ban helicopters are not new to New York, especially in city boroughs like Manhattan and Brooklyn where people have long complained about the sound of low-flying helicopters making commuter, tourism, and airport-shuttle flights.
Complaints have risen in the last few years in part because the growth of on-demand helicopter travel services—like Blade Air Mobility—has increased traffic. More people are also working from home, where they hear a lot more outside noise than they would in sound-insulated office buildings.
In the past it has been difficult for some city officials and politicians to lash out against an industry that serves tourism, business travel, and other markets that drive New York’s economic growth and upscale image. Today, demand for urban helicopter transport is especially strong, and many new companies are working toward launching eVTOL operations that would add significantly to rotorcraft traffic.
“In New York, the general aviation industry is responsible for 43,200 jobs and more than $8.6 billion in total economic output,” said Brittany Davies, NBAA’s Northeast regional director. “This bill has a negative impact that reaches across New York and beyond, and we need the governor to recognize the true implications,” she added.
The governor has until December 23 to sign or veto the bill.