Holmes Norton Hoping to Bring Back Commercial Helicopters to DC

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Photo by PoPville flickr user J Sonder

From a press release:

“Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) will offer an amendment to the fiscal year 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which is on the House floor now, that would prevent the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from enforcing its rule that prohibits commercial and most other helicopter operations in the District of Columbia. Norton’s amendment would allow for the South Capitol Street Heliport (SCSH), the only publicly accessible heliport in the city, which the FAA shut down to public access in 2005, after permitting the heliport to operate with limited public access for several years after September 11, 2001, to re-open, which would restore helicopter service in the District. Norton argues that shutting down the very heliport that government agencies used as a command center on September 11, 2001, and in the days following the terrorist attacks is an affront to common sense, service, commercial necessity, and basic justice. Every heliport in the country opened shortly after 9/11, including those in New York City, where terrorist attacks occurred.

“The time is overdue to change a reactionary decision the nation was forced to make after 9/11,” said Norton. “Despite SCSH’s generous and vital assistance to first responders and others on and after 9/11, and its steadfast pursuit of an appeal of the decision to shut it down, SCSH remains closed more than ten years after 9/11 except for use by law enforcement, military and medical evacuation traffic. It amounts to a government takeover of a private facility without compensation, and should be unthinkable for our government to adopt practices characteristic of authoritarian governments.”

Opened in 1998, the heliport brought significant business to the District and region, peaking at 41 corporate operators, including motion picture industry helicopters, many business aviation clients, emergency management operators and the Metropolitan Police Department, which still uses SCSH as its aircraft base. In the aftermath of 9/11, the FAA and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) imposed a waiver program, significantly reducing the number of helicopter flights to the District by requiring that pilots get waivers and report all passengers, crew and security personnel aboard all flights whenever they sought to fly to the District. Then, without any warning or explanation, the FAA and TSA abruptly halted even the limited waiver program flights and prohibited all commercial operations altogether, without any due process, input in the decision from the heliport or its users, means to appeal, or even so much as an explanation.”

12 Comment

  • ledroittiger

    This is going to make my commute from Ledroit to West End SO much easier!

  • Tailgating for Nats game just rose to a new level!!

  • Norton keeps bringing the hits – helicopters, giveaways to the real estate industry in a retardedly frothy market – what’s next?

  • I’m having a little trouble seeing how this matters to the vast majority of residents.

  • Please no! I don’t want the additional noise. I like the city’s (relatively) quite skies.

  • andy

    What we really need are drones.

  • Of all the things I would ask congress to do to improve the District this would be very low on my list.

  • Quite certain the Secret Service, Capitol Police, and DHS will nix this.

  • And this is why it’s a bad idea to fund our political campaigns with private donations.

    Because even if “Americans for Helicopter Freedom” or some such lobby didn’t actually cut a check for Holmes’ support, it sure as heck looks like they did — and it would have been completely legal.

  • Drones that can go underground and take care of the C*H*U*D problem.

  • Actually this another example of Norton sticking up for the little guy in the face of the Feds. That Heliport is nothing more than a small business, run by a real life, hardworking guy, who has been fighting to keep his business alive since 9/11 nearly put him out of business. Why should you care about this issue? For the same reason you care about DC budget autonomy, voting rights and keeping the federal government from forcing it’s will onto DC residents. Thank you PoPville for posting this.

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