Too low for comfort
Bayonne officials file complaint about low-flying helicopters
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Jan 09, 2013 | 6628 views | 0 0 comments | 67 67 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LOOK UP – Helicopters fly over every part of Bayonne, very often at illegally low altitudes.
LOOK UP – Helicopters fly over every part of Bayonne, very often at illegally low altitudes.

Helicopters buzz over Bayonne like low-flying insects – worse in the summer, officials say, but often just as bad during the rush hour commutes morning and night.

“They stack up at a heliport in Kearny,” said Councilman Ray Greaves, who, along with the City of Bayonne, filed a complaint this week with the Federal Aviation Administration to crack down on flight paths that not only create noise problems, but, because of their low altitude, could pose a risk to residents, Greaves said.

Recently, Mayor Mark Smith filed a formal complaint with the Regional FAA, regarding the issue of low-flying helicopters over uptown Bayonne.

“I too have filed a similar complaint,” Greaves said. “The quality of life of our residents has suffered due to the constant noise being generated by these aircraft and we are all concerned about the frequency and dangerously low altitudes at which these helicopters are flying over our neighborhoods. It’s our aim to have the FAA take immediate action and enforce their own regulations after investigating the complaints from the Mayor’s Office and the Municipal Council. The safety and well-being of our residents should take precedence over trimming minutes off of someone’s helicopter ride into and out of Manhattan.”

Aircraft pose a threat

Greaves said he had gone to Kearny and observed the lineup of helicopters waiting to make the trip into Manhattan, many of which do not follow regulations that require them to fly 1,000 feet or higher through congested areas such as Bayonne.

Smith filed his complaint with the FAA in late December, citing low-flying helicopter over area schools and residences, including flights within 100 feet of the Turnpike extension bridge

This is not a local phenomenon, as increased traffic congestion in and out of Manhattan has increased the impact on local airways, said Greaves.

Secaucus officials have complained in the past about aircraft causing similar problems there, going in and of Teterboro Airport. Then Rep. Steve Rothman held hearings in Bergen County to deal with some of the issues. Rothman, along with U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, eventually brokered a deal with the airport and the FAA that altered some of the air traffic patterns that steered aircraft away from heavily populated areas.

“They stack up at a heliport in Kearny.” – Councilman Ray Greaves

But this agreement came only after the crash of an aircraft near to a residential area in Bergen County highlighted the danger. Bayonne officials are trying to ward off the problem before some disaster causes injury or death to residents as a result of the increased air traffic.

For Bayonne, air traffic coming to and from Newark Airport also poses additional burden and threat, Greaves said.

“You see them coming over Bayonne at a low altitude,” he said. “While it may be worse in summer, if you look around rush hour in the morning and the afternoon, it is still busy, and they are not flying at 1,000 feet as they are required. They are red, blue or black and they fly over at 100 or 200 feet. It is truly a safety and quality of life issue. I know Jersey City contacted the FAA about a year ago. I filed a complaint and so did Mayor Smith. I checked out the heliport in Kearny and I watched the helicopters lined up, taking off and landing. This is an unacceptable situation. I want the FAA to deal with this low-flying assault on Bayonne.”

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