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Aug 14, 2018 4:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Helicopter Traffic, Soaring Since Curfews Lifted, Continues To Increase In 2018

Helicopter traffic increased by 29 percent in 2017, an all-time high, and is up 15 percent from that level thus far in 2018. Michael Wright
Aug 14, 2018 4:35 PM

Helicopter traffic in and out of East Hampton Airport continues to increase steeply as competition drives down prices for seats on “charter” flights, and aggressive marketing drives up the number of people looking to fly to the South Fork from New York City to avoid traffic delays.

Since the economic rebound following the “Great Recession” in 2008 and 2009, helicopter traffic has climbed to new heights. After modest decreases in the number of helicopter flights in the years when the town imposed curfews at the airport, the number of helicopter flights has shot upward again since the curfews were lifted by court order following the 2016 summer season.

In 2017, helicopter traffic increased 29 percent from the year before, surpassing the levels from before the curfews were put in place, according to a report to the town from its airport traffic consultants Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc.

There were 8,876 helicopter flights to the airport last year, about 32 percent of the total takeoffs and landings at the airport, a slightly smaller percentage of the overall number than in 2014. But it’s an increase of nearly 500 flights by helicopters compared to that year.

Thus far in 2018, helicopter traffic is up another 15 percent over the same period last year, airport officials say, and nearly 22 percent higher than the pace in 2007, the overall busiest year on record at the airport. Traffic in 2018 overall is up about 7 percent from last year and seems likely to fall short of the pre-recession levels of total traffic.

But with helicopter flights continuing to soar and flights by seaplanes—which some charter companies deploy to replace helicopters during the curfew years, because their noise signature qualified them for less restrictive curfew hours—also still climbing steeply, the consternation over the airport continues to vex local officials.

“We keep seeing more and more helicopter traffic, I think because there are price wars going on, so there are lower prices,” Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said. “There are a lot of people who are annoyed and find the noise intrusive into their quality of life. And I agree with them.”

The town conducted a survey of people arriving at East Hampton Airport over the two weekends bookending the July 4 holiday, part of an economic analysis of the impact of the airport ahead of the planned application to the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to re-impose curfews and possibly other restrictions intended to reduce air traffic, especially of charter helicopters.

“We asked questions like, Do you have a second home here? How many times have you been to visit this summer? How many times have you used the airport?” Ms. Overby said. “We are trying to get an idea of who is actually using the airport.”

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Just wait until Sylvia gets her way and closes the airport in 3 years - that 32% will become 100% because closing the airport will only affect the fixed wing planes which are mostly little single engine props. The helicopter traffic overhead will triple! They will fly into Southampton, Montauk, and Sag Harbor in droves without any air traffic control. Sylvia is so obsessed with closing the airport to redevelop that land with Trunzo and Dalene into expensive houses that she can’t see the disaster ...more
By localEH (427), East Hampton on Aug 15, 18 8:58 AM
2 members liked this comment
It's a shame that our "neighbors" in the aviation industry prefer fake news, false accusations and suppositions instead of actually dealing with what has become not just a noise problem but a real danger down here in the hood. The airport is out of control and the town board really doesn't seem to care. We just hope one of them whirlybirds don't crash into our cement pond.
By we could run this town! (129), the oceanfront trailer park on Aug 18, 18 8:27 AM
It has been relentless and is destroying the quiet use and enjoyment of many homeowners in North Sea and Noyac Areas. Funny most of us don't fly, but live, work and vote here full time. What do we know when we bought 7 miles away from an airport that we would be subject to such noise. The eastern regional helicopter council has not been a good neighbor. regulate the airport!
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Aug 15, 18 11:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
The rich are getting richer and people in power are focused on catering to their needs. I would like to see regulations changed so that helicopters can land at their passengers homes. It would be convenient for the passengers and would focus helicopter noise to neighborhoods where people ride in helicopters.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Aug 16, 18 12:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Aug 16, 18 12:46 PM
Something has to be done . The lame accusation that people bought by the airport and are now complain about noise is patently false. Helicopter noise is everywhere on the north side of the island, and large portions of the south fork.It’s a constant drone all day , everyday. It would be different if the helicopters were doing rescue work or something that benefited everyone, but they are not.its basically a quality of life issue, maybe some people like the noise, apparently a vast majority ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Aug 16, 18 1:03 PM
It is no longer only helicopters and seaplanes. Huge increase t his year in regional sized jets, most also flying disproportionately over the north and west inbound and outbound. No surprise people are upset about that.. At least until the fate of the airport is decided, traffic should be equally shared on all routes. It isn't, and never has been.
By Trish (91), Sag Harbor on Aug 18, 18 11:47 AM