New Air Taxi Service Coming to Wall Street Heliport; FAA and National Park Service Encourage Helicopter Tours Over National Monuments
Because of noise complaints, local leaders have pushed for years to scale back the volume of helicopter traffic at the Wall Street Heliport.
Downtown activists and leaders who have for years pushed to limit helicopter flights from the Wall Street Heliport may soon have a new reason to reach for their ear plugs. A partnership recently announced between United Airlines and startup Archer Aviation is slated to bring regular air taxi service connecting Lower Manhattan to Newark Airport to the facility starting in 2025.
Archer Aviation is one of a half dozen venture-backed firms pioneering eVTOL aeronautics, an all-electric variant on traditional “vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft, which ascend and touch down like helicopters, but cruise in a manner similar to fixed-wing planes.
Archer boasts that its all-electric propulsion system is a zero-emissions, eco-friendly alternative to the gasoline-powered engines of both conventional helicopters and airplanes. The firm further promises that its new Midnight model eVTOL, which has 12 propellers (each much smaller than the single rotor on a helicopter), is significantly quieter than an ordinary chopper.
Archer and United also point to their ten-minute flight time from Lower Manhattan to Newark, compared with the hour-plus commute time that driving usually requires. The planned air taxi will additionally incorporate aspects of the Uber ride-sharing model, with each Midnight aircraft carrying four passengers, in addition to a pilot. Archer hopes to leverage the Lower Manhattan-Newark plan into a broader network of so-called “urban air mobility” routes, connecting to airports throughout the New York region.
Archer competitor Joby Aviation—also developing eVTOL aircraft—has announced a similar partnership with Delta Airlines, which will take passengers from Manhattan to LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports. The plan does not specify which of Manhattan’s three existing heliports the service will use, although the Wall Street facility (located on the East River, next to the Battery Maritime Building) would appear to be a likely contender.
Meanwhile, the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration are accepting public comment until midnight tonight, November 21, on a new plan to encourage private helicopter tours over the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Governors Island National Monument. Read the draft proposal here, where a link to comment is also available.
Friends of Liberty State Park opposes the plan because it would send loud and environmentally destructive helicopters directly over the park. Stop the Chop NY/NJ also opposes the plan—and, in general, any non-essential helicopter traffic over Lower Manhattan—from environmental and security perspectives.