[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 142 (Monday, July 25, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 48323-48327]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-17427]



Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 93

[Docket No.: FAA-2010-0302; Amdt. No. 93-99]
RIN 2120-AK84

Extension of the Requirement for Helicopters to Use the New York 
North Shore Helicopter Route

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rulemaking amends the expiration date of the final rule 
requiring pilots operating civil helicopters under Visual Flight Rules 
to use the New York North Shore Helicopter Route when operating along 
that area of Long Island, New York. The current rule expires on August 
6, 2016. The FAA finds it necessary to extend the rule for an 
additional four years to preserve the current operating environment 
while the FAA conducts ongoing helicopter research that will be 
considered to determine appropriate future actions.

DATES: This final rule is effective August 7, 2016, through August 6, 

ADDRESSES: For information on where to obtain copies of rulemaking 
documents and other information related to this final rule, see ``How 
To Obtain Additional Information'' in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this action, contact Kenneth Ready, Airspace and Rules Team, AJV-113, 
Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-3396; email 
[email protected].


Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in 
Title 49 of the

[[Page 48324]]

United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of 
the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in 
more detail the scope of the agency's authority.
    The FAA has broad authority and responsibility to regulate the 
operation of aircraft, the use of the navigable airspace and to 
establish safety standards for and regulate the certification of 
airmen, aircraft, and air carriers. (49 U.S.C. 40104 et seq., 
40103(b)). The FAA's authority for this rule is contained in 49 U.S.C. 
40103 and 44715. Under section 40103, the Administrator of the FAA has 
authority to ``prescribe air traffic regulations on the flight of 
aircraft (including regulations on safe altitudes) for . . . (B) 
protecting individuals and property on the ground. (49 U.S.C. 
40103(b)(2)(B)). In addition, section 44715(a), provides that to 
``relieve and protect the public health and welfare from aircraft 
noise,'' the Administrator of the FAA, ``as he deems necessary, shall 
prescribe . . . (ii) regulations to control and abate aircraft noise . 
. .''

Good Cause for Immediate Adoption Without Prior Notice

    Section 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act requires that 
agencies publish a rule not less than 30 days before its effective 
date, except as otherwise provided by the agency for good cause found 
and published with the rule. The current rule expires on August 6, 
2016. To prevent confusion among pilots using the route and avoid 
disruption of the current operating environment, the FAA finds that 
good cause exists to make this rule effective in less than 30 days.

I. Background

    In response to concerns from a large number of local residents 
regarding noise from helicopters operating over Long Island, the FAA 
issued the New York North Shore Helicopter Route final rule (77 FR 
39911, July 6, 2012). The rule requires civil helicopter pilots 
operating Visual Flight Rules (VFR), whose route of flight takes them 
over the north shore of Long Island between the Visual Point Lloyd 
Harbor (VPLYD) waypoint and Orient Point (VPOLT), to use the North 
Shore Helicopter Route, as published in the New York Helicopter Chart 
(``the Chart''). The rule was promulgated to maximize use of the route, 
as published per the Chart, to secure and improve upon decreased levels 
of noise that had been voluntarily achieved. Under the rule, pilots are 
permitted to deviate from the route and altitude requirements when 
necessary for safety, weather conditions, or transitioning to or from a 
destination or point of landing. In addition, the rule is based on a 
voluntary VFR route that was developed by the FAA, working with the 
Eastern Region Helicopter Council. The voluntary route originally was 
added to the Chart on May 8, 2008.
    The rule originally had a two-year duration and was set to 
terminate on August 6, 2014. The FAA limited the duration of the rule 
because, at the time of promulgation, the FAA did not have data on the 
current rate of compliance with the voluntary route nor the 
circumstances surrounding an operator's decision not to use the route. 
The FAA concluded there would be no reason to retain the rule if the 
FAA determined the noise situation along the North Shore of Long Island 
did not improve. Accordingly, the Agency decided that the rule would 
expire in two years, if it was determined there is no meaningful 
improvement in the effects of helicopter noise on quality of life or 
that the rule was otherwise unjustified. Specifically, the FAA stated 
that should there be such an improvement, the FAA may, after 
appropriate notice and opportunity for comment, decide to make the rule 
permanent. Likewise, should the FAA determine that reasonable 
modification could be made to the route to better address noise 
concerns (and any other relevant concerns), the FAA may choose to 
modify the rule after notice and comment.
    On June 23, 2014, the FAA issued a two-year extension of the rule's 
termination date to provide additional time for the Agency to assess 
the rule's impact and consider whether to make the mandatory use of the 
route permanent (79 FR 35488). Since then, the FAA has been engaged in 
a variety of helicopter research initiatives that could inform the 
Agency's future actions on this rule. Topics addressed by these 
research efforts, described in more detail below, include modeling of 
helicopter performance and noise, helicopter noise-abatement 
procedures, and community response to helicopter noise.
    The FAA has initiated efforts to improve helicopter performance-
modeling capabilities for more accurate operational impact analysis. 
This research is scheduled to be completed in 2016, with an 
implementation plan for incorporation into the FAA's Aviation 
Environmental Design Tool (AEDT).\1\ Also, through the National 
Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Transportation Review 
Board (TRB), a research project was initiated through the Airport 
Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) to provide helicopter noise-
modeling guidance. The project reviewed, evaluated, and documented 
current helicopter noise prediction models and identified potential 
improvements to AEDT to better capture the unique complexity of 
helicopter operations. The research was published in January 2016. The 
FAA is currently reviewing the findings and will consider making 
modeling improvements in AEDT based on those findings. Improved 
modeling will allow better quantification of the noise impacts of 
helicopter operations and better inform decisions on measures to abate 
helicopter-noise impacts.

    \1\ AEDT is the FAA's tool for computing noise, emissions and 
fuel burn.

    The FAA's Center of Excellence, called the Aviation Sustainability 
Center (ASCENT), has funded Pennsylvania State University to conduct 
modeling of helicopters to identify potential noise-abatement 
procedures that may result in quieter operations. The first phase of 
this project focuses on integrating the tools needed to predict 
helicopter-source noise and providing the necessary integration within 
AEDT to be able to illustrate potential noise impacts of such noise 
abatement procedures. The second phase of the project is focused on 
developing noise-abatement procedures for either individual helicopters 
or classes of helicopters. These phases of the research are scheduled 
to be completed by August 2017. At that time, the FAA will need to 
determine whether to initiate and support flight tests during 2018, 
which would be necessary prior to advancing the use of the procedures 
with helicopter operators.
    The FAA is also engaged in research and collaboration with 
helicopter operators, seeking to educate pilots on the benefits of 
noise-abatement procedures, when to institute them, and the piloting 
procedures for achieving quieter operations. This project addresses 
noted issues by developing a strategy for pilot awareness of noise-
abatement techniques, looking at ways to illustrate the benefits 
through modeling, and examining the potential for video training on how 
to incorporate noise-abatement procedures. This research will utilize 
the findings of the ASCENT project described above.
    Finally, the FAA has two projects to review methodologies to 
determine community response to helicopter operations. One project is 
administered through the ACRP. The objectives of the ACRP research 
project are to: (1) Determine the significance of acoustical and non-
acoustical factors that

[[Page 48325]]

influence community annoyance to helicopter noise, (2) describe how 
these factors compare to those contributing to fixed-wing aircraft 
community annoyance, and (3) develop and validate a research method to 
relate helicopter-noise exposure to surveyed community annoyance. This 
project is two-thirds complete, and ACRP expects the project to be 
completed in late 2016. Further, the FAA has initiated a second project 
in an effort to test a different methodology for gathering information 
on community annoyance for residents in the vicinity of helicopter 
operations. The FAA has gathered data for this project, and the 
analysis is underway. The goal is to report on the methodology in late 
2016, and when completed, it will provide an alternative method for 
developing an annoyance survey for helicopters.
    Both of these projects provide an opportunity for the FAA to 
compare methodologies and determine the most effective approach for 
conducting a helicopter noise-annoyance survey. At the completion of 
the projects, the FAA intends to select the most effective, survey 
methodology and determine if a larger scale, community survey would 
better inform the FAA on appropriate methods to address concerns over 
helicopter noise. The FAA will then consider the need for a 
comprehensive helicopter community annoyance survey. While the research 
reaches maturity by the end of 2017, applying the research will take 

II. The Final Rule

    This final rule extends for an additional four years (i.e., to 
August 6, 2020) the requirement for pilots of civil helicopters to use 
the North Shore Helicopter Route when transiting along the north shore 
of Long Island. The FAA expects that four years will be sufficient time 
to consider results of the described research efforts in determining 
appropriate future actions on the rule. Extending the requirement to 
use the North Shore Helicopter Route during this period will continue 
to foster maximum use of the North Shore Helicopter Route and avoid 
disruption of the current operating environment. Therefore, the FAA 
finds that a four-year extension of the current rule is warranted.

III. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

A. Regulatory Evaluation

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563 direct 
that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon 
a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation 
justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. 
L. 96-354) requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of 
regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act 
(Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits agencies from setting standards that create 
unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. In 
developing U.S. standards, the Trade Act requires agencies to consider 
international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis 
of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of 
the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that 
include a Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, 
local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private 
sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with 
base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's 
analysis of the economic impacts of this final rule.
    Department of Transportation Order DOT 2100.5 prescribes policies 
and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of regulations. 
If the expected cost impact is so minimal that a proposed or final rule 
does not warrant a full evaluation, this order permits that a statement 
to that effect and the basis for it to be included in the preamble if a 
full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits is not prepared. 
Such a determination has been made for this final rule. The reasoning 
for this determination follows:
    This final rule extends for an additional four years (i.e., to 
August 6, 2020) the requirement for pilots of civil helicopters to use 
the North Shore Helicopter Route when transiting along the north shore 
of Long Island. Extending the current rule for four years is expected 
to provide the FAA with sufficient time to consider results of the 
described research efforts in determining appropriate future actions on 
the rule. The FAA determined the 2012 final rule would impose minimal 
costs because many of the existing operators were already complying 
with the final rule requirements. As this final rule extends those 
requirements, the FAA expects this final rule imposes only minimal 
    The FAA has, therefore, determined that this final rule is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 3(f) of 
Executive Order 12866, and is not ``significant'' as defined in DOT's 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation.'' To achieve this principle, agencies are 
required to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to 
explain the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals 
are given serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide range of small 
entities, including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and 
small governmental jurisdictions.
    Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a rule will 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. If the agency determines that it will, the agency must 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in the RFA. 
However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected to have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the agency may so 
certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. The 
certification must include a statement providing the factual basis for 
this determination, and the reasoning should be clear.
    The FAA believes that this final rule does not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the 
following reasons. With this final rule, the regulatory provisions 
already in place will be extended four years to provide the FAA with 
sufficient time to consider results of the described research efforts 
in determining appropriate future actions on the rule. The final 
regulatory flexibility analysis for the 2012 final rule determined that 
it had a minimal cost impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
This final rule extends those requirements. Thus, the FAA expects a 
minimal economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    Therefore, as provided in section 605(b), the head of the FAA 
certifies that this rulemaking will not result in a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

C. International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39), as amended by the 
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Pub. L. 103-465), prohibits Federal 

[[Page 48326]]

from establishing standards or engaging in related activities that 
create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. Pursuant to these Acts, the establishment of standards is not 
considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the 
United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic 
objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a 
manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also 
requires consideration of international standards and, where 
appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has 
assessed the potential effect of this final rule and determined that 
the rule will preserve the current operating environment and is not 
considered an unnecessary obstacle to foreign commerce.

D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal 
governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate 
is deemed to be a ``significant regulatory action.'' The FAA currently 
uses an inflation-adjusted value of $155 million in lieu of $100 
million. This final rule does not contain such a mandate; therefore, 
the requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that 
there is no new requirement for information collection associated with 
this final rule.

F. International Compatibility and Cooperation

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to conform to 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has 
determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices 
that correspond to these proposed regulations.
    Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation, promotes international regulatory cooperation to meet 
shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, 
environmental, and other issues and to reduce, eliminate, or prevent 
unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements. The FAA has 
analyzed this action under the policies and agency responsibilities of 
Executive Order 13609, and has determined that this action would have 
no effect on international regulatory cooperation.

G. Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1F, ``Environmental Impacts: Policies and 
Procedures,'' identifies FAA actions that, in the absence of 
extraordinary circumstances, are categorically excluded from requiring 
an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement 
(EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act. This rule qualifies 
for the categorical exclusion in paragraph 5-6.6.f of that Order, which 
includes ``[r]egulations. . . excluding those that if implemented may 
cause a significant impact on the human environment. There are no 
extraordinary circumstances that warrant preparation of an EA or EIS.

IV. Executive Order Determinations

A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this final rule under the principles and 
criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency determined 
that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on the 
States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government, and, therefore, does not have Federalism 

B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    The FAA analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it 
is not a ``significant energy action'' under the executive order and it 
is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, 
distribution, or use of energy.

V. How To Obtain Additional Information

A. Availability of Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of rulemaking documents may be obtained from the 
Internet by--
    1. Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
    2. Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies or
    3. Accessing the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/.
    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. 
Commenters must identify the docket or amendment number of this 
    All documents the FAA considered in developing this rulemaking 
action, including economic analyses and technical reports, may be 
accessed from the Internet through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
referenced in item (1) above.

B. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 
1996 requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information 
or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its 
jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document, 
may contact its local FAA official, or the person listed under the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the preamble. 
To find out more about SBREFA on the Internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 93

    Air traffic control, Airspace, Navigation (air).

The Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration amends chapter I of Title 14 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 93 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40103, 40106, 40109, 40113, 44502, 
44514, 44701, 44715, 44719, 46301.

2. Add Sec.  93.101 to read as follows:

Sec.  93.101  Applicability.

    This subpart prescribes a special air traffic rule for civil 
helicopters operating VFR along the North Shore, Long Island, New York, 
between August 6, 2012, and August 6, 2020.

[[Page 48327]]

    Issued under authority provided by 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 44701(a), 
and 44703 in Washington, DC, on July 15, 2016.
Michael P. Huerta,
[FR Doc. 2016-17427 Filed 7-22-16; 8:45 am]