In our July 18th post, we discussed the North Shore Helicopter Route and its fast-approaching expiration date. In that post, we noted that the Federal Aviation Administration (the “FAA”) had not yet decided what to do about the route and told you we would keep you apprised of future developments. Here’s that update. In the Monday, July 25, 2016, edition of the Federal Register, the FAA announced a final rule that extends the North Shore Helicopter Route for four more years. The new expiration date is August 6, 2020.
In the Federal Register notice, the FAA notes that the original purpose of the route was to ameliorate noise from helicopters operating over Long Island. When it originally adopted the rule in 2012, the FAA gave the rule a two-year duration to obtain data on pilot compliance and whether the route improved the noise situation. The FAA extended the rule in 2014 for another two years to allow it more time to consider whether to make the rule permanent. Since the 2014 extension, the FAA has undertaken a variety of helicopter research initiatives that will allow it to model helicopter noise and identify noise-abatement procedures. These research projects are on-going and some aspects of the research are not expected to be completed until 2017.
The FAA will need time to consider the results of the research projects and thereafter determine the appropriate action to take. As a result, the FAA determined that extending the North Shore Helicopter Route rule for another four years is the best way to “avoid disruption of the current operating environment.”
So for at least the next four years, helicopters will continue to fly over Long Island Sound, about a mile off-shore, before they cross over land at Riverhead, Southold, and Shelter Island to head south to the Hamptons.