Public Announcements

     

    2021 Pending Legislation

    In the week since our meeting took place, new amendments to Local Codes and Congressional Bills have been proposed. At the local level, the NY City Council is considering three amendments to City Code that will affect helicopters. The first (intro 2026) will prohibit charter operators from operating to and from city owned heliports unless they meet ICAO Stage 3 noise levels. The second (2027) will require a study to look at the safety and feasibility of using electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles in the city fleet. The third (2067) will require all operators to keep on file information concerning registration, airworthiness certificate, maintenance information- as well as the routes, departure point and destination, each time they land at the heliport. These amendments are up for public hearing on February 17, 2021 and will likely proceed to the City Council for vote later this Spring.

    In Washington, HR4880 was introduced in Congress last October to prohibit "nonessential helicopters" flying over cities with a population greater than 8 million and a density of more than 125,000 per square mile (NYC).  A recent article in the Gotham Gazette cites it directly and the embedded link from that article details the Bill more specifically (HR 4880).

    Finally, the Safe and Quiet Skies Act introduced last week to direct the FAA to adopt strict requirements to dictate altitudes and routes and noise levels for tour helicopters. The Safe and Quiet Skies Act includes the following:

    • Require that tour flights fly above the 1,500-foot altitude over actual ground at all times with very limited exceptions for emergencies and takeoff/landing;
    • Require tour flights over occupied areas (including residential, commercial and recreational areas) to be no louder than 55 dbA, the same level of noise commonly allowed for residential areas;
    • Allow states and localities to impose additional requirements – stricter than the minimum national requirements called for in the act – on tour flights;
    • Require that all regulations under this Act, in addition to any updates to any Air Tours Common Procedure Manuals (voluntary understandings between operators and the FAA), include public engagement;
    • Prohibit tour flights over military installations, national cemeteries, national wilderness areas, national parks and national wildlife refuges;
    • Apply the “sterile cockpit rule” to tour flights, which requires that pilots only focus on safely operating the aircraft and would define tour-giving and narrating as outside of the duties required for safe operation;
    • Require FAA to implement NTSB recommendations regarding Part 135 regulations, which most tour flights fly under; and, Require all tour flights to fly under Part 135 regulations and prohibit tour flights from flying under less restrictive Part 91 regulations

    The ERHC is working with all available resources to inform our members, their clients, and elected officials to highlight the effects this will have on our industry locally and across the country. These proposed regulations affect each member differently. We are asking members to pass along this information to your various stakeholders and to contribute to the ERHC Helicopter Advocacy Program to help ERHC with their educational and legislative efforts.