The deafening sound of tourist helicopters taking over our skies and disrupting our communities is enough to drive even the most thick-skinned New Yorker mad.
These helicopters run approximately 300 flights per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - averaging one flight every two minutes over the New York Harbor and downtown Manhattan.
But for the millions of residents living and working under their flight path, peace of mind is far from their biggest concern.
Tourist helicopters pose a distinct and dangerous threat to our health, environment, and public safety. And we need smart regulations to alleviate these burdens on New Yorkers.
Increased levels of aircraft noise can cause students to suffer from learning disabilities, impaired reading comprehension, impaired cognitive ability, and impaired memory. A study conducted in three countries with children ages 8 to 12 found significant impairment in reading comprehension and memory as a result of excessive aircraft noise. And this noise can also cause increased cardiovascular stress in children.
It's not just our children who are suffering. Excessive aircraft noise can cause sleep deprivation, hypertension, and impaired gastrointestinal function in adults. And this noise can be particularly harmful to veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The noise of the helicopters can be a trigger to memories of the battlefield.
These tourist helicopters also have negative environmental impacts on our City. According to the National Resource Defense Council, excessive helicopters increase emissions in our atmosphere -- leading to more smog forming gases and cancer causing agents in our air.
At a time when we are looking at every path possible to become a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable City - these nonessential aircrafts are hindering our progress.
And if the threat to our health and environment wasn't already enough, we cannot overlook the public safety dangers.
These helicopters are not subject to Transportation Security Administration rules, and have no protective barrier between the passengers and pilots. They regularly stray from their designated flight paths - flying dangerously low and close to some our City's most iconic monuments. We cannot allow our safety and security to continually be jeopardized by these helicopter tours.
Tourist helicopter companies, many of which are not based in New York City, will argue that without their presence, our tourism industry will come to a standstill. New York City was a mecca of tourism activity well before these helicopters came on the scene, and it strains credulity to believe that tourism would suffer from smart regulation of an industry that clearly puts our communities at risk.
I have been proud to work the New York City Council as we begin to examine this issue - we need smart regulations on these tourist helicopters. We must put the health and safety of New Yorkers above the interests of this industry.