Helicopter Noise Ramps Up Over Noyac, Northwest

A small private plane taxis on the runway as a helicopter takes off overhead at the East Hampton Airport.

If a decision stands by the tower chief at East Hampton Airport to shut down helicopter arrivals and departures along the south shore last Friday, helicopter noise may hit levels in Noyac and parts of Sag Harbor and Northwest Woods not heard in years, according to an email sent Tuesday to members of the anti-noise Quiet Skies Coalition.

It’s not going to happen, according to East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.

The south shore, or Sierra, route keeps helicopters high and offshore along the Atlantic beach and away from populated areas. The town and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council’s goal has been to spread half of all arrivals and departures onto the Sierra route “and they have been coming close,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.

Tower chief Bruce Miller announced at a meeting of the Airport Management Advisory Committee (AMAC) on Friday that he was shutting down the route, which has been in use for several years, because controllers were having difficulty visually separating helicopter and fixed-wing traffic including seaplanes south of the airport, according to the Quiet Skies email, which was sent out by the group’s treasurer, Pat Trunzo III.

An email subsequently sent by the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council to its members on Friday advised them that the Sierra route was “no longer available to helicopter traffic effective immediately.”

But on Wednesday, Supervisor Van Scoyoc said he had been assured the Sierra route was still in use and would remain so. When the tower chief made his announcement on Friday, “I don’t think he properly represented the town or aviator policy,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said.

Without the Sierra route, all arrivals will have to use the November route, which follows the power lines through North Sea, Noyac and Sag Harbor to the airport; and all departures will have to use the Echo route, which crosses the Northwest Woods area of East Hampton toward Barcelona Point.

Because of the route change, “They are pushing more traffic over Southampton and the whole North Fork,” Noyac resident Barry Holden told the Southampton Town Board at its meeting Tuesday night.

“It’s noisy,” agreed Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, “and it’s gotten noisier.”

Jeff Smith, executive director of the Eastern Regional Helicopter Council, declined to comment as did Airport Director James Brundige.