If the East Hampton Town Board has its way, new curfews and restrictions on helicopters and other “noisy” aircrafts will limit companies like Gotham Air (“Uber for the skies”) and wealthy, chopper-owning residents like Ira Rennert and Matt Lauer to one flight per week.
“It will be like ‘Apocalypse Now,'” said one Hamptons resident to the New York Post.
Set to take effect on May 17, town officials voted on the East Hampton Airport (HTO) restrictions last month, but a temporary restraining order brought by a group called Friends of the East Hampton Airport and local helicopter and aviation companies could ground the restrictions. The Federal Aviation Administration is also supporting the TRO, which is good news for Rennert, who owns two choppers and is said to shuttle them back and forth every day.
If the TRO is rejected, all aircrafts taking off or landing at HTO will have to do so before 11 pm or after 7 am, and all “noisy” aircrafts (helicopters and certain small jets) will be blocked between 8 pm and 9 am, with a one flight per week cap during the summer.
For residents in the surrounding area of HTO, the recent uptick in helicopter traffic has been a nightmare. Choppers arriving and departing in the wee hours shake their walls, rattle their windows, and ruin their sleep.
Last year, when community complaints were high, HTO manager Jim Brundige told The Wall Street Journal that 2014 takeoffs and landings had risen 23% since the previous year, with helicopters accounting for 40% of the total traffic (13,200 takeoffs and landings).
Gotham Air, which recently announced service to the Hamptons, may have the answer with its Bell 407GX helicopter fleet. The company calls them its “quiet Hamptons helicopters” and CEO Tim Hayes likens the noise level to that of a lawnmower.
This Thursday’s hearing will be held at the United States District Court in Central Islip. “If we don’t get the TRO it will be chaos,” one supporter of the TRO told the Post.