Stop the chop – that’s the slogan from a Brooklyn city councilmember who wants to ban tourists and the ultra-wealthy from hopping on helicopters that take off from New York City’s heliports.
It has become yet another chapter in the tug of war between people complaining about the choppers’ noise and helicopter companies that say jobs and millions of dollars are on the line.
Councilmember Lincoln Restler knows the view from Brooklyn Heights is anything but an eyesore. However, the helicopters taking off from Lower Manhattan have led to quite the earsore – not to mention the issue of air pollution too.
“You can’t even have a conversation like we’re having right now because the noise is that extraordinary,” Restler told NBC New York. “No New Yorker should suffer from severe noise and air pollution.”
In a place as loud as NYC, the one noise Restler would want silenced is the buzz from helicopters catering to tourists and the ultra-wealthy, who hop on a chopper to skip hours of traffic.
Restler has proposed a bill that would ban all non-essential helicopters from taking off or landing on two heliports owned by the city: one near Wall Street and another on East 34th Street. If his bill passes, Restler says it would free the skies of 4,000helicopter flights every month.
“It’s a good way to curb pollution and the use of gasoline and we need to start thinking about taking care of our planet,” said former Brooklyn resident Margarita Cruz.
However, there are some who believe a ban on sightseeing tours from the sky could pour cold water on the city’s plan to rebound from the pandemic.
“The tour companies will have to move and operate somewhere else,” said Jeffrey Smith, who runs the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council, the group that represents the helicopter industry in New York.
Smith points out that helicopter operators have already made big sacrifices to appeal to critics. Back in 2016, tour operators chopped the number of flights in lower Manhattan by 50 percent. Operators also agreed to end all flights on Sundays.
Smith says this is yet another situation that requires a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.
“It’s a pretty big brush, especially post-COVID,” he said.
Still, some locals are fed up with the noise caused by helicopters used by the wealthy.
“Folks with money, you know, come on! Do the right thing. We don’t want the noise,” said Cruz.