Helicopter Group Claims Flight Restrictions In The Hamptons Are Unconstitutional

Though many well-to-do denizens of the Hamptons likely enjoy the comforts and convenience of a helicopter hither and thither to the popular Long Island weekend getaway destination, there have been so many complaints about noise from the aircraft that the local government has issued new restrictions on flights in the area. That isn’t going over well with the helicopter industry there.

A group representing helicopter operators is suing over new laws restricting flights at East Hampton’s town airport, arguing that they’re unconstitutional, reports the Associated Press.

Those new laws were voted in last week after officials received 24,591 about airport-related noise in 2014, many of those coming in the summer when the crowds flock to the area. It’s not a new problem, either as elected officials and others in the town have been trying to solve the problem for several years.

The laws are slated to go into effect Memorial Day weekend, creating curfews on all takeoffs and landings and a shorter window set for aircraft considered noisy (as defined by the FAA). Those noisemakers are also restricted to landing and taking off only once a week between May and September.

Friends of East Hampton Airport filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Tuesday claiming that the local government doesn’t have the authority to impose airport noise or access restrictions, and instead, only the Federal Aviation Administration does.

“What East Hampton is seeking to do is illegal and sets back by at least a year any effort to resolve the issue through compromise, practical operational alternatives and dialogue,” said the CEO of Heliflite, a company that joined the suit.

But the town say it’s allowed to set the rules because it doesn’t receive FAA grand funding and hasn’t in years, which officials say give them the final word on airport operations.

“The town is fully prepared for this litigation and will vigorously defend its legal and constitutional right to impose reasonable, non-arbitrary, and carefully balanced restrictions,” officials said in a news release.

Lawsuit Challenges Airport Noise Curfews in the Hamptons [Associated Press]