“Noise tax” proposed for NYC helicopter flights

Photo credit: Fernando Gonzalez

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

While New York City Council considers a bill to restrict non-essential flights in the city, state bills are being introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gonzalez and Rep. Bobby Carroll to impose a $400 “noise tax” for non-essential flights departing and landing at the New York City heliports. Writer Charles Komanoff call these non-essential flights “luxury” in his piece on Streetsblog NYC. 

Komanoff writes about how the noise generated by a short helicopter ride can intrude on the peace and quiet of those exposed to this noise. He informs us that about 625,000 residents live in the path of helicopters that take people from the West 30th Street Heliport to JFK International Airport. Komanoff believes that a tax on helicopter trips will reduce the number of flights and as a result, the amount of noise experienced by residents. He calculated the number of future flights over people’s homes by looking at existing flight numbers, and estimated numbers of reduced flights.

He also believes the state will garner a substantial amount of money for imposing taxes on helicopter flights. In reducing numbers of flights by imposing taxes, there will also be a reduction in fossil fuel use which is critical to “stemming the climate crisis,” Komanoff said. 

There was a hearing last week on ending non-essential helicopter flights in New York City. Testimony from individuals exposed to these noisy flights, including members of the nonprofit Stop the Chop NY/NJ, expressed how disturbing overhead helicopter flights have been to their health and well-being. I would request that the people who testified last week also comment on the state bills. I also wonder if the introduction of this new state legislation will stall the passage of the city’s legislation.

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