U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (both D-NJ) expressed their appreciation to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Eastern Regional Administrator Carmine Gallo for keeping his commitment to hold a symposium on the impact of tourist helicopters this week, but urged federal authorities to take action to uphold the safety and quality of life of residents in New Jersey's Hudson River waterfront communities.
"Administrator Gallo's making good on his promise to hold a symposium on tourist helicopter flights is a step toward remedying the impact of tourist helicopters on New Jersey residents," said Senator Menendez. "But this week's symposium must lead to action that ensures the public's interests are held in higher priority than commercial interests. This time to act is now, before a tragedy strikes. I am committed to exhausting every one of our options in providing our communities along the Hudson River the relief they need."
"It is very important that the concerns of the residents along the Hudson River waterfront be addressed," said Congressman Sires. "I am pleased that FAA Administrator Gallo as well as the stakeholders involved took the time to come together to further look for solutions to solve this critical issue on behalf of the residents of my Congressional District. The business of having tourist helicopters at our expense is unacceptable."
The symposium held at Teterboro Airport on Tuesday, August 27, was called at the requests of Senator Menendez and Congressman Sires after a meeting of local residents, officials and FAA officials at the end of July. Among the nuisances reported at that meeting were windows rattling at day care centers, helicopter noise heard at 10:45 p.m., and tourist helicopters flying at altitudes half as low as they fly in New York City.
This week's symposium brought together a variety of aviation experts and stakeholders including FAA officials, representatives of tourist helicopter trade industry, law enforcement, and a representative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and Chairman of Eastern Region Helicopter Council Jeff Smith. Many New Jersey residents attended, as well.
Among the recommendations made to the FAA by Senator Menendez, Congressman Sires and the elected officials that represent the Hudson River waterfront are: requiring helicopters fly higher and further away from the New Jersey banks of the Hudson River, requiring helicopters to fly less frequently, improving the monitoring of flights over the Hudson River, and providing better helicopter flight security.
Among the other elected officials present were Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Guttenberg Mayor Gerry Drascheff, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, West New York Commissioner Carridad Rodriguez, Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason, representing Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop Dominick Bauer and Hudson County Freeholder Chairman Anthony Romano.
Administrator Gallo committed to reviewing the recommendations to see which agencies could best implement them and report back to the Senator, Congressman and other stakeholders within a month.