Helicopter Association International president Matt Zuccaro said HAI is evaluating its legal and political options in the wake of a federal court decision upholding the authority of the FAA to mandate the “North Shore Route” for helicopters transiting New York’s Long Island.
“We’re frustrated. Everybody agrees this was started as a political action,” Zuccaro said. “We almost view the FAA as a victim. This wasn’t their idea. They did not want to do this. They basically don’t agree with it. However, they were directed by those with political influence to do this. That’s the reality of the world, and when that happens we lose control of the [airspace] process. It’s like telling the FAA to go sit on the steps of the Capitol and wait for instructions. That’s not what we think the agency is about.”
Zuccaro said the FAA continues to advocate a voluntary and cooperative approach to helicopter noise problems in the Los Angeles basin, widely seen as the next big battleground on the issue. Zuccaro noted that most helicopter traffic there is from the public sector and that those operations would be exempt from any mandatory noise-abatement routing. “It is kind of ironic. The majority of operations there are public sector, which you need and you want. So the effect of any mandate would be minimal, and that is what the FAA is trying to say. This is not a regulatory problem. This is a problem to be worked out voluntarily as it has been in other venues,” he said. “We want logic to prevail. Noise complaints to an elected official should not be the criteria for changing airspace and safety considerations.”