Proposed bill would ban non-essential helicopters in New York City

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Local members of Congress are leading a new push to ban helicopters over New York City.

Representatives Nydia Velazquez, Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are introducing federal legislation to ban non-essential choppers within city airspace like the ones used for sightseeing tours.

There have been more than 30 helicopter crashes in the city over the past 40-years, most recently in June when a pilot was killed in a crash landing on a Manhattan building.

But the lawmakers say safety is just one concern. They also point to air and noise pollution.

"Although we have previously called on the Federal Aviation Administration to ban all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City, we must do more," said Velázquez. "While we all remember the terrible accident in June and others in previous years, safety is not the only concern. Many of my Brooklyn neighbors who live near the water's edge suffer from incessant noise pollution, due to helicopter flights."

"This past June, we were all reminded of the safety threat posed by non-essential helicopters when a pilot attempted to make an emergency landing and crashed into the AXA Equitable Center in my district in Midtown Manhattan," said Maloney. "My colleagues and I have called on the FAA numerous times to impose additional regulations that would make New York City airspace safer, but we have yet to see sufficient measures be taken. That is why we have introduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019 to finally protect the safety and wellbeing of New Yorkers."

The lawmakers say New York City has one of the highest rates of helicopter use in the world.

Helicopters deemed essential would still be allowed. Essential flights are defined as law enforcement, emergency response, disaster response, medical services, or for the public interest; it does not affect military aircrafts.

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