Havoc Over Hamptons Helos

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With new apps now available that make it easier and cheaper to book helicopter shuttles to the Hamptons from Manhattan, traffic is up more than 40 percent this summer, local officials say, and Long Island residents are seeking regulatory relief from the increased noise and traffic. At a meeting held Monday night in Peconic, N.Y., more than 150 people gathered to complain to FAA officials. One resident said she went to the beach near her home and counted 34 helicopters passing by within less than two hours. A proposal to divert the traffic offshore would add 60 miles to each trip, said Jeffrey Smith, vice president of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council. "It would put an unbelievable burden on our small operators," he told Newsday. The FAA officials had no comment.

Smith added that the current flights are in compliance with both FAA rules and voluntary noise-abatement restrictions near the East Hampton Airport. "Our whole industry rides on the balance of being a good neighbor," he said. Local officials are conducting a noise study, collecting complaints, and scheduling more local meetings. Meanwhile, complaints also are continuing about helicopter flights for tourists above the Hudson River near Manhattan. Last week, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., called for a ban on the flights, saying they threaten the public safety and quality of life of residents along the waterfront. "It is time for the  FAA to use any and every tool they have to shut down these helicopters and put an end to this problem," he said, "and if they don't have the tools they need, then we will do all we can to make sure they have them."