With helicopter noise complaints on the rise, governments must act

Photo credit: Charles Parker

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

With all the negatives COVID brought to New York City, the one positive that I heard from people who live with overhead airplanes and helicopters, is how much quieter it was. However, that quieter time has ended, reports Agence France-Presse, who interviewed Melissa Elstein, of Stop the Chop NY/NJ, as she is now being overwhelmed with the noisy tourist helicopters and those that transport wealthy residents to their Hamptons summer homes. She claims that her apartment vibrates.

Elsteiin is not a lone complainer. Complaints from helicopter noise have risen considerably in the past year with the majority from Manhattan. In response to these complaints, the New York State legislature passed a bill, not yet signed by Governor Hochul, that hopes to reduce helicopter noise by reducing nonessential flights and by allowing lawsuits against helicopter companies for causing unreasonable levels of noise at the ground level. This action follows the already reduced number of allowed tourist flights that was ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017. Furthermore, while helicopter tourist rides starting in New York City were banned from soaring above land, helicopters taking off from New Jersey can still fly above Manhattan.

Agence France-Presse reports that some residents said they accept the sound of helicopter noise above their heads, a response echoed by others who believe we should learn to live with the noises of New York City. But what these people may not know is that their acceptance of noises can still adversely affect their health and well-being. Trying to continuously adapt to unpleasant sounds results in the body using extra energy and this can have a detrimental impact on your health.

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