Menendez and Sires press helicopter issue in meeting with FAA

NEWARK – An official from the Federal Aviation Administration vowed to hold a symposium on the impact of tourist helicopters on Hudson County residents this week after meeting with U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D – NJ) and Representative Albio Sires (D – 8th Dist.) at the senator’s office in Newark, according to a press release from Sires’ office.
The summit will take place at some point in the next month, according to the release.
The issue of low-flying tourist helicopters on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River has come to a head in the past year, as flights have increased here due to a ban on tourist helicopters over the East River last year. Since the spring, New Jersey residents have responded, saying that their well-being should not be jeopardized so that tourists can see Manhattan.
“People should come over here and see our parks and rent a bike and ride the waterfront,” said Brian Wagner, one resident, at a press conference earlier this month. “We’ve got great views, but they’re also views we want to enjoy on Saturdays with our families.”
Residents from Bayonne to North Bergen have complained about both the noise and the safety risks of such low helicopters, prompting Sires to hold a press conference with various mayors from around the area to discuss the issue. On Monday, he followed through on his earlier promise to meet with the FAA and attempt to convince it to ban such flights over New Jersey.
“We’ve got to do something about this,” said Sires. “The business of having tourist helicopters at our expense is unacceptable.”
Menendez was not present at the press conference last month, which was held in Hoboken, but offered his Newark offices as a setting for the talks, and said afterwards that he is “committed to exhausting every one of our options in providing our communities along the Hudson River the relief they need.”
The meeting was also attended by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, and Chairman of the Hudson County Board of Freeholders Anthony Romano. From the FAA, Regional Administrator Carmine Gallo and Air Traffic Manager at the Newark Air Traffic Control Tower Russell Halleran were in attendance. – Dean DeChiaro

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