The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued a permanent injunction yesterday that strikes down noise and access restrictions at New York’s East Hampton Airport (HTO). The move concludes what NBAA, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, called a “precedent-setting case for public-use airports nationwide.”
Litigation was triggered in April 2015, when the town of East Hampton adopted a year-round general curfew at the Long Island airport from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily; a year-round extended curfew for “noisy” aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily; and a summertime one-trip-per-week limit for aircraft deemed by the town to be “noisy.”
NBAA, Friends of the East Hampton Airport, the Eastern Region Helicopter Council and others argued that the federal Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) applies to all public-use U.S. airports, and that the town of East Hampton’s adoption of all three noise and access restrictions was a violation of ANCA. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York issued a decision in November 2016, agreeing with the plaintiff’s position that all three restrictions were impermissible, the U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of all the restrictions at HTO. The town of East Hampton sought to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court denied the petition in June.
“We are gratified that the judicial system upheld our position that the restrictions at East Hampton violated federal law,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “For aircraft operations to be successful, it is essential to have a uniform and consistent set of rules. The courts clearly understand the longstanding policy that our country has a national aviation system, not one subject to a patchwork of local regulations.”
But, he added, “Even though restrictions have been permanently lifted at East Hampton, aircraft operators have long respected the concerns of local residents and will continue to make every attempt to fly neighborly, thereby minimizing aircraft operations’ impact on local residents. East Hampton has one of the most extensive voluntary noise-abatement programs in the country, and our members are committed to flying responsibly.”