No Alternatives – Letter to the Editor, East Hampton Star, March 23, 2015

Dear David,

In November, at a luncheon in New York City hosted by Arthur Malman, chairman of East Hampton’s business and finance advisory committee, airport finance subcommittee, all commercial operators at East Hampton Airport were invited to offer their ideas for addressing noise. I know, because I was there.  They had none to offer at that time, stating that they needed time to consider.  I personally urged them to offer whatever ideas they might have, while suggesting that they should endeavor to provide as much evidence as possible that their proposals would work.

No concrete noise-reduction proposals whatsoever from these commercial operators have ever been forthcoming. Nor has the airport planning committee aviation subcommittee, representing local aviation interests, proposed any alternatives to the noise-reduction proposals of the East Hampton Town Board.

The helicopter operators continue to claim in their orchestrated campaign of opposition that “routes and altitudes” can solve the problem, although these have been a demonstrated failure for years. Indeed, in 2014, which was the opportunity for the membership of the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council to demonstrate that its route and altitude management would be a solution, matters only got worse. There is simply not enough open space around the airport for this to work. The congested airspace will not permit helicopters to achieve sufficient altitude before departing or maintain sufficient altitude when arriving, even assuming that pilots observed the rules, which they do not.

Claims that the town has not considered all the alternatives for noise reduction are the last-ditch effort by New Jersey-based helicopter operators to force their way into our airport, contrary to the will of the people who live here and own the airport. Over the course of the last year and more, every plausible alternative has been considered, from a “slot” system to regulate traffic volume, to price incentives, to, yes, routes and altitudes.

The proposals made by the town to exclude the noisiest aircraft are by far the best alternatives available. Seventy-five percent of the noise complaints would be addressed by the proposed rules. In the absence of any alternative proposal, either from local aviation interests or commercial operators from outside East Hampton, it is time for the town board to move forward and adopt its proposals. If there were in reality any alternative to mandatory access restrictions, it would have been adopted years ago.