January 16, 2009

ERHC to participate in Manhattan EDC meeting

NYC's Economic Development Corporation and Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer are holding a meeting on the 22nd on the topic of complaints from Upper West Siders about helicopter tours. ERHC looks forward to the learning and educating session.

December 24, 2008

Council's Best Wishes to All!

Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays to the helicopter community of the NYC region. We thank you immensely for your Neighborly flying efforts this past year and most importantly, for safely providing your passengers the excellent and valuable transportation service you do, day, night, in the heat, cold, always. We look forward to helping you maintain this safety level, and increase your professionalism and efficiency in the new year.

We also wish a joyful and safe holiday season both to those in our region who've worked well with us this past year as well as those who have opposed us. Through our interactions, we hope you have discovered we are honest people who seek a balanced relationship of mutual understanding and cooperation; we have certainly learned a lot from our adversaries.

ERHC looks forward to continuing the progress of 2008 into 2009 after the rejuvenation of the holiday time. Thank you.

November 21, 2008

ERHC Thanks FAA Safety Team and attendees

Last night, after FAASTeam Program Manager Robert Thorson completed his presentation on Special Use Airspace in the Port Authority building at TEB, Past Chairman David Nuss was allowed to brief helicopter operations and the Hudson River exclusion areas. About 50 attendees, including two private helicopter pilots were there but after the break about 30 remained for Nuss' 10-minute overview, followed by 45 minutes of questions and answers.

The pilots had some good questions, and Mr. Thorson was generous in sharing time. A few attendees indicated they were interested in joining ERHC. An individual member of ERHC is "Any person interesting in promoting the goals and purpose of ERHC in accordance with the Code of Ethics", so yes, those of you at the meeting last night, please explore our web site and consider joining via our Membership page, and thanks for your interest!

October 21, 2008

Delightful Annual Meeting weekend

Under sunny Autumn skies, 24 golfers enjoyed the kickoff to our weekend at Flanders Valley Golf Course on Friday morning. About 90 participants attended the evening Meet and Greet at the Hanover Marriott, and another 90 got up early on Saturday to soak in a full day of presentations from committees, sponsors, and dialog on a variety of local news.

The Saturday night banquet drew 107 persons, and saw a changing of the guard at the microphone for the festivities. Sunday's board meeting concluded with the election of Jeff Smith as our new Chairman and Alex Dadurian as the new Vice Chairman. Congratulations to both and best wishes in taking ERHC into the challenging future.

October 15, 2008

Return of the Roundtable

Our annual meetings, as with any volunteer group, have ebbed and flowed in character through the years and this year we're aiming to get back to a more interactive session, so please bring your thoughts, questions, and participate in the dialog.

It's been a busy year for your ERHC leaders so there is a lot to cover, both in letting you know what we've been doing, as well as highlighting your fine Long Island neighborly flying and developments in heliports, IFR, and other topics.

Our sponsors have been generous this year and want to share with us the latest developments at their companies, so to get up to speed on the latest products and events, plan to stay for the full meeting, which will run through about 4 p.m. Thank you.

October 8, 2008

Annual Meeting banquet discount deadline today

Fax in to save $40 per person! Form is in your packet or on the members' pages.

Wall St. operator decision nears

NY Times

September 29, 2008

Golf registration deadline Friday Oct 3

Use your password to access the forms on the Members web pages.

UN TFR continues through Sept 30

The most restrictive provisions are over, but remember to follow procedures to access JRA and 6N5, and if you fly around or over, make sure you know where the edges are.

September 26, 2008

Only three weeks until the Annual Meeting

Our sponsors have come through for us again, allowing us to conduct our business in nice surroundings in a professional atmosphere with minimal cost to participants. Details at the Meetings link above. Don't miss the networking and information opportunities!

September 22, 2008

TFRs in NYC/NJ this week

About six NOTAMs are in effect in our area, running from the 20th-30th. The most restrictive are 22-24 Sept in central NJ and the NYC Class B airspace, including gateway facilities in effect part of the day at LDJ and FRG to access the inner ring facilities. The notices have changed almost every day, slightly, so check your favorite source frequently and be ready for anything, including not being allowed to do what the NOTAM allows.

Past experience has shown the shadowy security people at ATC's shoulder will sometimes misinterpret the restrictions or pressure ATC to keep you away. Remember, the local ATC folks provide us excellent service throughout the year, let's work together to get through the week, maintaining our high level of past performance, with no violations and serving our passengers/customers as effectively as possible.

September 2, 2008

LI East End season winding down with top results

Labor Day weekend is traditionally the last busy flying weekend of the summer for the east end, so we're hoping community tempers ease off along with flying pace so we can move towards productive dialog on how to find balanced solutions for affected residents.

ERHC members and non-members alike have achieved high rates of participation in East Hampton (HTO) airport's voluntary noise abatement procedures (VNAP). Looking at data analysis from HTO staff for April through mid-July (the last report we've received), of 1,329 flights tracked, 84% of flights showed a compliant track and 67% compliant altitudes. No one has had time to raise the numbers with supplemental data from pilots on days when weather or other causes could have required other tracks or altitudes, so these are very impressive numbers for voluntarily longer, higher, and thus friendlier flying.

Residents of Long Island's north fork should realize that the NYC region's professional helicopter pilots provide the safest mode of transportation and our community commitment this year is being measured by national politicians by our compliance with HTO's recommended flight paths. These paths recommend pilots fly inbound from the Sound or high over land to Peconic Bay to the ferry crossing then Northwest Creek. If you see east and south bound helicopters on this path, they are doing as the airport asks and politicians expect. This is good, neighborly, flying behavior. Pilots are not required to fly as high as we have nor along these routes but the massive participation shows we will follow recommendations voluntarily. Many people last winter expressed doubts our community could be trusted to fly as asked. The heaviest user of HTO this summer has logged 98% compliance with routings through mid-July. These facts close the book on the public's concern about ERHC and the pilot community's trustworthiness.

This summer's performance should also make it clear that the best solutions lie in working directly between communities, airports, FAA, and the ERHC. When your politicians call for hearings, regulations, studies, don't bother--it's going to cost you time, tax dollars, and result in ineffective, inflexible results. Working with ERHC and the pilot community directly has shown our results to be fast, flexible, and responsive. It's clear to us which is a better option. We hope you agree, and look forward to consultations this fall and winter aimed at further refining solutions for next year and beyond.

Don't forget to check the link above, "What we do for LIers" to discover the tireless efforts ERHC and its members have accomplished this summer to show we care and can be trusted to do what's asked of us. We look forward to continued interaction as we continue providing information and fair, balanced solutions for all.

August 18, 2008

ERHC continues efforts to help; vacation notice

Our Special Advisor, Robert Grotell, will bring our message of assistance to Suffolk County, NY, tomorrow night during a public hearing on local proposals to regulate the airspace over the county. As noted on August 6 (below), ERHC has pointed out, along with LIBAA, to all the county's legislators, that FAA pre-empts any legislation they would be considering. So it's our belief the fastest route to change is to work with us on the underlying issues. As we've proven this summer, our solutions are free, flexible, and fast. As a non-profit group of volunteers in touch with the area's professional helicopter pilots, we can bring together the right assets to brainstorm and then try out ideas with no cumbersome administrative overhead. The freedom of aviation allows this flexibility.

In addition to ongoing assistance on Long Island, we're also aiming to investigate possibilities to relieve traffic near the north shore of Staten Island, NY. Local pilots are at times directed along this path under an altitude limitation by Newark tower. If there's a modification to be found, we'll find it along with the help of our members' ideas and the advice of FAA's excellent air traffic controllers at Newark.

ERHC's web site staff, which produces this and two other web sites, will be on vacation until the middle of next week. Meanwhile, please investigate the other sections of this site and its partner, www.flyneighborly.net and let us know what you think. You might also consider finding your local airport and go out and meet some pilots of small planes or helicopters. Small airports are a great way to meet people and learn more about aviation.

August 11, 2008

NY Times article notes neighborly flying

Our Special Advisor and Chairman quoted along with many others in an overall balanced and accurate story.

While ERHC sympathizes with those who feel adversely affected by helicopter flights, it should be noted that our community is responding by voluntarily following the most neighborly options available to pilots. The limitations of airspace and voluntary routes established by airport managers mean that one key tool of neighborly flying, varying routes, is not available to us.

At East Hampton, for example, the vast majority of flights are high and along the routes established by the airport, so we ask North Fork residents, please don't fault pilots for following recommended procedures. For those dismayed by the level of traffic, please know that people are entitled to operate air transportation businesses to serve a demand for air travel. Operators of those businesses in our region are meeting or exceeding all professional standards, industry best practices, voluntarily taking on higher costs and less business opportunity in order to fly neighborly, all while providing the safest mode of transportation in the region.

ERHC looks forward to meeting with those mentioned in the article who question the professionalism of the region's pilots, and those who have some misperceptions about compliance levels-East Hampton airport's own data shows high compliance. We also look forward to conversations with those who denigrate us with disparaging words which are not entirely true. Operators are showing their good citizenship through neighborly flying.

SI Councilman Letter to Editor

NY City Council member Michael McMahon of the north shore district wrote a letter to the editor of the Staten Island Advance, published August 8th. ERHC received his referenced letter last week and has contacted his staff.

ERHC's response to the letter:

Dear Editor;

We’d like to put Councilman McMahon’s letter of August 8 in perspective for SI residents.

The Eastern Region Helicopter Council worked many years ago to eliminate a helicopter route along the northeast-southwest axis of SI; pilots now fly off the south shore.

We met with Mr. McMahon in 2005 and explored the possible sources of helicopter traffic, limitations on routes due to overlying limited-access airspace, and potential solutions. We then reinforced to members the message of following industry best practices for neighborly flying around SI. This week, we received a copy of his letter to Regional Administrator Weiss.

With the beginning of the NY/NJ/PA Airspace Redesign at EWR by FAA this year, helicopters have at times only one eastbound option from near EWR, and ATC tells pilots to fly the approximate path Mr. McMahon indicates at an ‘at or below’ altitude. Pilots are obligated to follow such instructions. Residents of these communities need to know that. Pilots are not intentionally flying over these areas, they’re following instructions of ATC, meant to keep helicopters separated from airliners.

Residents should also know that ERHC is a volunteer, non-profit group and we do not “instruct” pilots to fly any given path. We do make recommendations, and the professional pilots of the NYC area have a demonstrated record of voluntarily observing such suggestions at a high rate.

ERHC has contacted Mr. McMahon’s staff, and is trying to arrange a donated orientation flight and a meeting of parties relevant to fair, balanced, and flexible solutions.

Over our 30 years of working with communities, ERHC and its members have won numerous community service awards; our efforts elsewhere this summer are showing stellar results. We look forward to the chance to help Staten Islanders very soon.

August 6, 2008

Focus on underlying issues, ERHC urges Suffolk Co

Recently, Legislator Edward Romaine of Suffolk County, NY, offered resolution 1673-2008, addressing helicopter flights over his county on Long Island. The bill is clearly pre-empted by the FAA's authority, but ERHC's leaders recognize the concerns that led to the bill. We've urged the county's leaders to work with us to continue the current focus on resident concerns and work through ERHC for no-cost, fast, flexible, fair and balanced solutions. We also noted the high level of voluntary participation that's been shown by members and non-members this year in NYC-east end flights. ERHC's leaders salute those friendly fliers.

Our letter (287kb pdf) to the full Suffolk County legislature was joined by support from the Long Island Business Aviation Association (LIBAA), and in news articles both the Aicraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and FAA have spoken on the topic of pre-emptiong of local attempts to regulate flights, assess fines, etc.

August 4, 2008

Misperceptions continue, pilots are flying right

ERHC continues to receive complaints from residents of Long Island who are under the impression our agreement with airports mandates aircraft to fly over water. In fact, on a few occasions we've received complaints and followed up by observing flight tracks at the time and date of the complaint and found the flights to be at or well above recommended altitudes! We've also been interviewed recently by the New York Times and Newsday on the subject and made this point, that flights over land will continue, ideally at higher altitudes, but the public needs to realize that altitudes are limited by air traffic control, so pilots may not be able to fly as high as they would like to.

Data collection continues, and we will provide a report at the end of summer to assess how this new ERHC-airport-community interaction is working. One thing is for sure, though, pilots are flying higher, more over water, and right on course at East Hampton airport.

See our page listing some of what ERHC is doing for Long Islanders.

July 30, 2008

East Hampton flight route compliance increases

For the most recent weekend reported, July 10-14, preliminary data from airport staff shows 85% of helicopter flights were on the voluntary noise abatement routes, and 69% met the altitude points-in-space. Exemplary voluntarism!

Pilots following guidance routinely

As our members have done for many years, this summer they're doing exactly as asked by Long Island communities. With only one route to get from NYC to the east end above industry best practice altitude guidelines, namely over LGA and over the sound or high above the island, a significant portion of traffic to the east end is along the north shore.

ERHC has spent many hours reviewing flight tracks and making observations during visits to the homes of some complainants. "I've stood there with the callers, and we both see 100% of the helicopters are doing the right thing", says Robert Grotell, ERHC's Special Advisor "they're high, they're over the water, there are even airplanes flying below them".

Grotell recently followed up one complaint of a "low-flying" helicopter and found data to show it was over 2,500' in altitude. In another study of peak-time traffic, average altitudes of helicopters was over 2,500', with the vast bulk of flight tracks showing intent to follow the most recent flight route and altitude guidance.

Unfortunately, complaints are still coming in to ERHC and communities. A large portion of complaints are reporting helicopter overflights. There still persists the mistaken notion, published as recently as yesterday, in an east end publication, that all flights must be over water and above 2,500'. ERHC wishes everyone to know that we have been trying to correct this with news media ever since we first saw its appearance last winter, but the message doesn't ever seem to make it into print. There will still be flights over the island; pilots are responsible to choose the safest and most efficient flight path and sometimes this is over land. But when possible, we stongly encourage pilots to fly high and off shore.

July 19, 2008

Bait with rabies vaccine to be dropped on LI

Forested areas will have a low level helicopter doing this work next week to combat rabid raccoons in the area. This is one of many missions helicopters conduct in the service of public interest. Newsday story. ERHC shares this with you as a public service; we have no connection with the operator or the vaccination effort.

July 15, 2008

New page-What We Do for Long Islanders

We've been asked on occasion what exactly we're doing here at ERHC to address Long Islander's concerns about helicopter traffic. We've assembled a partial list as best we can.

July 10, 2008

Exemplary participation at HTO

Pilots continue to show their good citizenship in a big way at East Hampton airport (HTO). Preliminary figures for the first part of the 4th of July weekend show 84% of flights voluntarily complied with the airport's noise abatement routes July 2-5, and 63% of flights were within 100' of altitude points-in-space (an additional 4% met industry standard altitudes). ERHC continues to analyze the data and contact operators regarding their flights.

July 2, 2008

Time to unify and celebrate, not dictate

usflagLong Island, New York, elected leaders continue to issue false and misleading information to the public about helicopter flights in the area and threaten our aviation freedoms with unreasonable legislation. This is especially sad, as they have instant access to the news media, while we do not.

We reject their assertions and wish to inform the public that the only, preliminary, statistics available are for activities near East Hampton airport, where compliance with voluntary procedures has been exemplary-the most recent weekend report showed 88% of flights were on voluntary routes and 63% passed through tiny points in space where the flight is measured, while an additional 9% came very close to the altitude and exceeded industry best practices. There are no statistics kept for flights along the path between NYC and the east end. There have been no complaints received from the south shore, so it's possible that more and more pilots are choosing the best high-altitude route, over LaGuardia and then onward to destination. Altitude is limited by weather and air traffic control.

On this Fourth of July weekend, when we celebrate the nation’s unifying theme of independence and freedom, what better symbol is there to rally around than aviation, possibly the most important discovery of the 20th century, which provides super-human three-dimensional efficiency of travel to all Americans? It’s time to celebrate the professional helicopter pilots of the NYC region, who provide the safest and most efficient mode of transportation in the megalopolis, and to venerate aviation, not to further legislatively dictate it, as some elected officials would do in the face of logic and facts to the contrary.

June 4, 2008

FAA Safety Team sends out 2,300 e-flyers

faasteamThanks to FAA Region Administrator Manny Weiss and the FAA Safety Team leader for our area, Joe Foresto, for putting together an e-flyer and sending it out to helicopter pilots of the tri-state area, reminding them to fly high, friendly, and observe the area's many voluntary noise abatement procedures. It's a good government-industry piece of teamwork that should help out the region's residents.

The mission of the FAA Safety Team: "To improve the Nation's aviation safety record by conveying safety principles and practices through training, outreach, and education. At the same time, FAASTeam Managers and Program Managers will establish meaningful aviation industry alliances and encourage continual growth of a positive safety culture within the aviation community".

June 3, 2008

Preliminary data show high compliance at HTO

East Hampton, NY, airport uses AirScene technology to track aircraft within about 10 miles of the field, which doesn't have a control tower and sees a Spring-Summer increase in air traffic. Airport personnel review each flight to assess voluntary participation in recommended routes and altitudes. Recently the voluntary noise abatement procedures there were refined and specific points in space better identified for pilots.

Initial data from May 22-26 shows over 2/3 of flights were on-track and most met the altitude gate at one specific point along the route. Further refinement of the data will likely increase results, as pilots of off-track or altitude flights will have a chance to explain variations from either. Complaint phone call tallies have not been reported yet or cross-referenced to flight tracks.

Contacts range from 'thanks' to much worse

Our new toll-free information line, 800-319-7410, for the entire region, took in some interesting calls, including a "thank you" from one caller who noted most traffic higher and further away but one that was closer. Our flyneighborly dot net site also generated a thanks or two but mostly a broad gamut from minimal information about the volume of traffic, to threats of lawsuits to complaints about disturbance of personal space and even one from a Long Islander wishing us to "crash and kill yourselves", adding that whenever that was to occur, their neighborhood would have a party.

ERHC's mission is communication and we especially like communicating with civilized people who have open minds and would like to hear our side of the issues as much as we would like to hear theirs. The news media have not provided the general public with accurate information, nor have public leaders. We work hard every day to set the record straight because the public deserves fairness and truth. We also welcome compliments!

June 2, 2008

Data tracking off to a good start

With our new toll-free number and the flyneighborly dot net web site, we're getting a much better fix on where the complaints about helicopters along Long Island are coming from. This will help us inform our members. Pilots are reporting high compliance with the new north shore route, and the bulk of complaints are along there as well. It's quite possible people are observing the voluntary use of a route they asked for.

To learn more about helicopter aviation, and the complexities pilots face every day, read the FAQs under the "Learn" tab on our companion site flyneighborly dot net.