HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Helicopters flying over the Hudson River have become a noisy nuisance – especially in parts of New Jersey, where neighbors said their quality of life is being drowned out.
As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported, tourist helicopters are a familiar sight and sound in the skies over the Hudson River. They take off and go back and forth all day and into the night.
“Even at night it becomes an issue here, because a lot of people here work in the city,” said Wasim Syed of Hoboken.
Brian Wagner, of the Hoboken group Stop NYC Tourist Helicopters Over NJ Side of the Hudson River, said the tours are a noisy nuisance and a danger. He has been passing out fliers to anyone who will listen.
“There’s a thumping, buzzing noise, pretty much from 9 o’clock in the morning ’til 10:45 at night, seven days a week,” Wagner said.
Waterfront residents said the helicopter traffic and the noise has gotten worse, ever since the Federal Aviation Administration instituted new Hudson River flying rules.
They came after a 2009 crash between a tour helicopter taking off vertically and a small plane flying horizontally. The midair collision over the Hudson near Frank Sinatra Park left nine people dead.
The rules now say local flights or helicopter tours must operate in the lower airspace below 1,000 feet, and also require tours to fly north on the Manhattan side and south on the New Jersey side.
Some say that path takes them right over the waterfront.
“They’re flying too low,” said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “The noise is excessive. People’s homes are shaking.”
Zimmer has taken up the issue, working with New Jersey state lawmakers to change the flying altitudes and limit the noise.
“I don’t know how high they should be flying,” Zimmer said. “But it seems that they’re flying too low, and too low to New Jersey, because the noise is quite excessive.”
A helicopter pilot said he understood the viewpoint
“I’m not going to try to take the stance that we don’t create noise,” said pilot George Luna.
But Luna, operating out of the nearby Jersey City waterfront, said the problem is not the industry as a whole. Rather, he said, it is planes and helicopters co-existing on a narrow and heavily populated corridor.
“The noisiest part of coming and going is taking off and landing,” he said. “The actual motion of going up and down the Hudson here is actually very quiet.”
An organization called the Eastern Region Helicopter Council works with tour companies on noise and other nuisance complaints. A spokesman said the group takes every complaint seriously, and will investigate any tour company accused of operating too low, too far away, or too loud.
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