East Hampton Town said on Wednesday, September 25, that it has banned a charter helicopter company from using the East Hampton Airport after two incidents of reckless flying by the company’s pilots.
The town said that on August 28, a helicopter operated by Analar, a New Jersey-based helicopter charter company, flew over the airport terminal building at a height of just 100 feet.
A statement sent out by the town on Tuesday, September 24, said that airport manager Jim Brundige notified the company of the incident and warned them that such incidences of recklessness would not be tolerated. The town says that the company acknowledged the unsafe maneuvering and told Mr. Brundige the matter would be addressed.
But, the town says, just three days later, another Analar helicopter flew just 250 feet over the top of residences near the edge of the airport property.
“Unsafe operations by aircraft using East Hampton Airport will not be tolerated,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in the statement issued by the town. “It is particularly disturbing that these aircraft, on a perfectly clear day, would fly below the agreed-upon voluntary minimum altitude. This was not only unsafe but violated the ‘Fly Neighborly’ protocol agreed to by the Eastern Region Helicopter Council in order to mitigate the considerable noise impacts from helicopters that affect our residents.”
The town says that aircraft operated by Analar will be prohibited from using the town-owned airport for 90 days, as of September 24, because of what it called the company’s “unsafe and reckless operations.”
The town noted that the company will have an opportunity to appeal the decision at a hearing before the East Hampton Town Board should the company request one.
Analar President Michael Renz did not return a call for comment.
The town has battled helicopters and the Federal Aviation Administration over control of the airport, primarily because of the noise the increasing helicopter traffic has created. In 2015, the town imposed a curfew and adopted a limitation on the number of flights a company could make to the airport, but both were shot down by federal courts.
But Town Attorney John Jilnicki said that the town authority to enforce the ban on Analar stems from the town code, which gives the town the power to suspend access for up to 90 days by any operator or pilot whom the airport manager deems to be operating in an unsafe manner. Mr. Jilnicki said that the two incidents detailed by Mr. Brundige violate both town code and federal aviation law.
The company may appeal the ruling, and Mr. Jilnicki said that the town’s aviation industry attorneys, Cooley LLP, have been in contact with representatives of Analar.