East Hampton Town Officials Blame Court Decision for Increased Air Traffic

East Hampton Airport
Traffic at East Hampton Airport has increased recently, despite the pandemic. file photo

According to a press release issued by East Hampton Town officials this week, the number of aircraft operations at the East Hampton Airport increased “noticeably” in 2017, a result, town officials said they believe is the result of a court decision that lifted town-imposed curfews and restrictions at the municipally-owned airport in Wainscott.

According to data provided by the town’s airport traffic consultants, Harris Miller Miller & Hansen, Inc., helicopter traffic in 2017 increased 29 percent over the previous year, with an overall 7 percent increase in total operations, including a decrease in turboprop and jet traffic.

In 2015, the town enacted three local laws to provide residents relief from air traffic impacts like noise including a nighttime curfew for all aircraft between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., an extended curfew from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. for noisy aircraft and a one-trip-per-week limit on “noisy” aircraft during the summer season. It implemented the curfews in July of that year, with the U.S. Court of Appeals lifting the limitations in November of 2016, demanding the town engage in a part-161 review through the Federal Aviation Administration before it enacts restrictions at its airport.

In addition to increased helicopter traffic, complaints have also soared by 104 percent since the curfews were lifted, according to the town’s consultants.

“You can see the immediate impact of the court’s decision,” said Councilman Jeff Bragman in a press release. “When two curfews were in effect between July 2015 and November 2016, overall traffic stayed level and helicopter traffic actually decreased. Now that the court has usurped the town’s ability to exercise local control, operations are on the rise, and helicopter traffic has returned with a vengeance.”

“Ever-increasing air traffic continues to degrade the quality of life in East Hampton and across the East End, and must be addressed to insure residents’ quiet enjoyment of their homes and surroundings,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.