NBAA is urging its members to express strong opposition to a New York bill that would clear the way for lawsuits over rotorcraft noise. Senate Bill S7493A has passed both the New York Assembly and Senate and is headed to the desk of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for her signature.
In a call to action, NBAA appealed to members to urge Hochul to veto the measure—the so-called “Stop the Chop” act—saying it is so expansive that lawsuits could be levied against a pilot, flight department, line service personnel, or other company personnel involved in a helicopter operation perceived as noisy, even if the operation is in compliance with federal law.
The bill states: “Any person who shall have suffered interference with the use and enjoyment of private property or public parkland by a rotorcraft used in a manner that creates an unreasonable level of sustained noise at ground level, including the interior, balcony, or other outdoor areas of a building, shall have a right of action against any person, except a passenger with no control of the operation of the rotorcraft other than the selection of a pre-designated route.”
The bill provides exceptions for emergencies, disaster response, law enforcement, news-gathering, and other types of operations that are deemed for the public benefit or involve FAA-approved routes.
NBAA and a number of other organizations further wrote Hochul saying the bill is contrary to federal law. Joining NBAA in the letter were the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Eastern Region Helicopter Council, Helicopter Association International, New York Aviation Management Association, and National Air Transportation Association.
“As written, the act operates as an access restriction at the West 30th Street heliport,” the letter said. “But that is prohibited by the federal law governing the implementation of noise and access restrictions of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990.”
Further, the organizations argued that the bill is overly broad, saying it enables any person who has suffered from helicopter noise levels to sue anyone who has “caused or contributed” to those operations.
“There are a lot of unknowns in this legislation, and it is so vaguely worded that there are many avenues in which litigation could be taken,” said Brittany Davies, NBAA Northeast regional director.