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Prieto, Jimenez, Mukherji & Garcia Bill to Curtail Nuisance Tourism Helicopter Flights Advanced by Assembly Panel

Bill Targets Dangerous, Noisy Tourism Choppers along Hudson River in N. Jersey

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Speaker Vincent Prieto, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji and Carmelo Garcia sponsored to protect public safety – most especially in northern New Jersey – by prohibiting tourist helicopter operations at aviation facilities licensed by the state was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-4310) requires the Commissioner of Transportation to prohibit tourist helicopter operations at aviation facilities licensed by the state.
Tourist helicopter is defined to mean a helicopter that operates for the purpose of providing sightseeing tours to patrons in areas including, but not limited to, the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York City, the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island.
“These helicopters are creating almost non-stop health and safety risks and nuisance concerns for New Jersey residents living along the Hudson River,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “This is important airspace that has been clogged by nearly 700 tourist helicopters each day. Let’s do the right thing before we see more and more tragedies.”
The sponsors noted pleas to the Federal Aviation Administration have gone unheeded, and that New York recently restricted tourist helicopters operating out of New York heliports from flying over Central Park, the Empire State Building and Brooklyn. The restrictions imposed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation increased the heavy tourist helicopter traffic on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.
Approximately 700 helicopters, carrying the many tourists that visit the area each year, fly over the Hudson River and New Jersey each day to capture the views of the New York City skyline. The flights have resulted in several accidents, including:
· On August 8, 2009, a small private plane collided with a tourist helicopter in a low-altitude midair accident over the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey.
· On June 30, 2013, a tourist helicopter was forced to land on the Hudson River after losing power.
“We need to consider the health, safety, and welfare of the New Jersey residents living along the Hudson River and to prohibit tourist helicopters from flying out of New Jersey as best we can,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). “We may not be able to stop every one of them, but with this legislation we’d be curtailing it significantly and improving public safety and quality of life.”
“These helicopters create health and safety risks, as well as nuisance concerns, for New Jersey residents living along the Hudson River,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This isn’t a step we take hastily, but it’s something we must do to eliminate the noise, safety hazards and other negative impacts on New Jersey residents caused by tourist helicopters.”
“Many of my Hoboken constituents have mentioned this to me, and they can’t take it anymore, and understandably so,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “These helicopters aren’t serving a public safety function and have proved to be a dangerous nuisance, so it’s time to do something to restore the quality of life in this area.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and The Arts Committee.