The race to allow air taxis even as the people try to fight helicopter noise

Photo credit: Archer

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

Just as federal and local representatives are trying to limit nonessential helicopter travel over New York City, we learn that urban air taxis–electric vertical-takeoff-and landing vehicles, known as eVTOLs–will soon be filling the skies. Although it is alleged that such vehicles will be quieter and less polluting, Sissi Cao,, notes that they are not that quiet. She speakes to Dr. Matthew Arace, a researcher studying the eVTOL design, who said that “[h]aving hundreds of these vehicles flying constantly overhead can really be a source of annoyance.”

May I add that annoyance does not adequately explain the adverse impact of noise from above on our physical and mental well-being.

According to one eVTOL company, the sounds from eVTOLs will not be perceptible above the city’s ambient level, though it concedes that in rural and quieter areas, the noise from these eVTOLs could be disturbing.

One should point out that there are quieter communities in urban centers as well. Today, aircraft and helicopters are flying over quieter areas in New York City, including over our parks. Do New Yorkers want to add eVTOLs to the mix?

As we read through this article, we learn that both in Europe and the U.S. companies are moving closer to getting approval from government agencies to begin this new air taxi service within several years. While the article did focus on the noise issue, it did not speak to the safety factor. Noise and safey are two important reasons why government agencies should not race to approve eVTOL use.

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