Helicopters to Stick to North Shore Route

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday renewed its mandate that helicopters flying between points west and the East End, many of which use East Hampton Airport, follow a route along the North Shore until turning south toward their destinations. The rule, which was to have expired on Aug. 6, has been extended through August 2020.

New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand first asked the F.A.A. to enact the North Shore mandate four years ago, in response to complaints across Long Island about helicopter noise. The route keeps the choppers about a mile off the coast to minimize their time over land. However, because so many of them are heading for East Hampton and other South Shore points, North Fork communities have experienced little relief from the disruption, and the most recent extension has angered residents and officials there.

When first enacted, the North Shore-mandated route was set to expire in two years if it were determined that there was “no meaningful improvement in the effects of helicopter noise on quality of life or that the rule was otherwise justified,” according to the Federal Register. Or, the F.A.A. said at the time, should there be an improvement, the agency could make it permanent or modify it.

In June 2014, the F.A.A. extended it for two years. In renewing the route on Friday, the agency said that it was engaged in a number of research efforts regarding helicopter use, with a focus on modeling helicopter performance and noise, noise-abatement procedures, and community response to helicopter noise. The information, the agency said, will better inform decisions regarding how to abate helicopter noise impacts on communities.

According to the Federal Register, where information on the renewed rule has been published, “the F.A.A. finds it necessary to extend the rule for an additional four years to preserve the current operating environment while the F.A.A. conducts ongoing helicopter research that will be considered to determine appropriate future actions.”

In a press release this week, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said that in extending the mandate, the F.A.A. had failed East End residents. Along with other elected officials, he has argued for a second east-west route, along the South Shore, to “keep helicopters over water as long as possible.”

“The current route is beset with loopholes that permit transits over land and populated areas many miles from the East Hampton Airport at low altitudes,” said the assemblyman in a statement. “The current route has resulted in detrimental impacts to the quality of life across eastern Long Island.”

The F.A.A., he said, has “again . . . turned their backs on the very public they are supposed to protect. Congress must intervene to save the people of eastern Long Island from four more years of assaults on their health and quality of life.”

Representative Lee Zeldin, a member of the House transportation and infrastructure committee and the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on aviation, was apparently unaware of the F.A.A. decision when he spoke Saturday morning at a meeting in Southold in favor of adding a South Shore route and eliminating use of the North Shore route altogether. He later called for the F.A.A. to reconsider its decision, and for Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to oppose it as well.