A thread against helicopters & their noise pollution, couched as a statement regarding Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Noise Policy & Research Efforts, submitted today via FAA’s on-line comment portal. My name is Charles Komanoff. I live & work in lower Manhattan. 1/n
I am fluent in environmental costing & noise pollution. My 2000 monograph for the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, Drowning in Noise, was employed by municipalities across the U.S. & Canada to regulate & curtail noise-polluting “personal watercraft.” komanoff.net/jet_skis/ 2/n
Your agency is responsible for regulating helicopter noise. It’s time you started actually doing that, beginning in New York City, where helicopter noise is constant, draining and, frankly, unjust. The hundreds of helicopter flights to which much of NY is subjected daily 3/n
constitute a monstrous failure on the part of the Federal Aviation Administration. That you have allowed the numbers of these flights to mushroom, with no consideration of their impacts on people who live & work here, is a disgrace. 4/n
As a hypothetical, if the transportation & employment benefits of helicopter flights over New York City outweighed their noise-annoyance & other environmental costs, a case might be made for letting those flights continue, though with mitigation measures. 5/n
But no such quantification of costs & benefits of NY-area heli flights has ever been done. That’s not acceptable. A crescendo of voices is demanding that the FAA move immediately to commission a noise-annoyance study of helicopter flights over NYC, 6/n
while significantly curtailing them, pending the outcome. The study should document & measure noise annoyance, noise stress & ill health, noise disruption to productivity & daily life, & noise fury. Yes, in every district of NYC barraged by heli noise, there is noise fury. 7/n
Why shouldn’t there be, given the powerlessness of the citizenry to do anything about it? Last week, a New York City Council hearing on helicopter noise drew anguished, searing testimony from ordinary residents & community representatives 8/n
from Brooklyn Heights to Whitestone, from Chelsea to Washington Heights, from Carnegie Hill to Tribeca. Lest you’re unfamiliar with the large swathes these neighborhoods constitute, let me assure you that their combined population easily exceeds the figure of 400,000 9/n
that you claim, in your agency’s statement regarding this webinar, to be the upper limit of the number of Americans in all 50 states “exposed to significant aviation noise near airports.” Part of what makes New Yorkers furious is knowing that the benefits of 10/n
almost all NY-area helicopter flights are ephemeral & frivolous, & that their purposes are downright inane. Tourist helicopter flights to view New York from above? There’s Virtual Reality & videos for that, or, better, seeing our city on foot or by tourist bus. 11/n
Commuter flights? At least 99.9 percent of us get to the country or airports via trains, buses, cars or bicycles. So too can the one-tenth of one percent or less who use helicopters. What about NYPD helicopter flights — essential, right? Wrong, for the most part. 12/n
The overhaul of policing now gathering steam in New York will almost certainly entail curtailing the gratuitous & counterproductive aerial “monitoring” of peaceful protest demonstrations & other First Amendment-protected political activity that has come to constitute 13/n
the majority of NYPD helicopter use. Helicopter rescues? By all means. Helicopter privilege, helicopter entitlement, helicopter imposition of misery upon hundreds of thousands of helpless New Yorkers, enabled by your agency? No. 14/n
We ask: Is this Joe Biden’s FAA, dedicated to some measure of environmental sanity & fairness? Or is it Donald Trump’s, using the power of the state to benefit a handful at the expense of the many? It’s past time for the FAA to step up. 15/n
Commit to a comprehensive noise-annoyance study. Commit to using scientifically-grounded benefit-cost analysis to determine which, if any, helicopter use over New York is in the public interest. Sharply curtail helicopter flights over NYC, pending the outcome. 16/16.

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