Court Strikes Down Access Restrictions at East Hampton Airport

Local town asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that could have had wide ranging implications for general aviation.

East Hampton Airport
A court has issued a permanent injunction striking down locally created noise and access restrictions at HTO implemented by the town of East Hampton, New York.Friends of the East Hampton Airport/Facebook

The battle over exactly who controls airspace and access to a public airport, in this case the airport in East Hampton, New York, is finally over. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of New York has issued a permanent injunction striking down locally created noise and access restrictions at HTO implemented by the town of East Hampton more than two years ago.

In April 2015, the town government published rules creating a year-round airport curfew between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily. The restrictions included a ban on “noisy” aircraft between 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily in addition to a one trip per week limit on flights for aircraft the town deemed to be noisy. It is unclear what criteria the town used to decide when an aircraft could be deemed noisy.

The National Business Aviation Association, Friends of the East Hampton Airport, the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) and others had argued that existing federal law – the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) – applies to all public-use U.S. airports, and that the town of East Hampton’s adoption of all three noise and access restrictions was a violation of ANCA. East Hampton appealed for a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court denied the petition in June 2017.

Following the decision, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said, “East Hampton has one of the most extensive voluntary noise-abatement programs in the country, and our members are committed to flying responsibly.”

Federal District Court Judge Joanna Seybert on Aug. 7 signed the permanent injunction.