City Plans to Transform Downtown Manhattan Heliport into Electric Transport Hub

In partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Mayor Eric Adams hopes to transform the Downtown Manhattan Heliport–located on Pier 6, just above Battery Park–into a hub for “electric vertical take-off and landing” (eVTOL) vehicles.

| 14 Nov 2023 | 09:07

In partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Mayor Eric Adams hopes to outfit Pier 6’s Downtown Manhattan Heliport with infrastructure that can host “electric vertical take-off and landing” (eVTOL) vehicles. In other words, he wants a transit hub near Wall St. to maintain a fleet of e-copters. In doing so, he proclaimed that he’ll address both green-energy initiatives and community complaints about loud gas-powered helicopters.

“We will not only put New York City at the cutting edge of sustainable flight technology while addressing a persistent quality-of-life issue with helicopter noise, but also get trucks off the road and make our streets safer,” Adams boasted at the heliport, where he held a press conference on November 14. He then turned around to witness two eVTOls, manufactured by the companies Joby Aviation and Volocopter, rise into the air.

JoeBen Bevirt, the founder and CEO of Joby, proclaimed that “Mayor Adams and his team are laying the groundwork for New York City to become a global leader in the adoption of electric flight. With their support, we plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers, connecting places like downtown Manhattan and JFK Airport in under 10 minutes.”

The city administration, via its Department of Small Business Services, also put out a request for proposal (RFP) on the project. According to the city, they are looking for “firms with expertise in heliport, airport and vertiport as well as maritime freight, logistics and micro-distribution or microhubs management and operations to act as an operator at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in Lower Manhattan.”

Proposals will need to take into account workforce development in industries such as “aviation, maritime, transportation, logistics, and other relevant sectors.” Addressing community quality-of-life concerns must be incentivized, and adequate outreach to minority and women-owned businesses must be conducted as well.

The heliport transformation would advance goals outlined in the mayor’s “PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done” initiative. It would also work towards “Making New York Work for Everyone,” an “action plan” created in conjunction with Governor Kathy Hochul. Essentially, officials hope that it will reduce the need for truck freight by expanding “marine highways,” thereby reducing carbon emissions (the helicopters are themselves powered by clean energy).

Community quality-of-life concerns likely refers to noise complaints, at least in part. Indeed, the noise pollution emanating from helicopter rotors has deeply bothered some residents in recent years, with a formidable grassroots coalition intending to “Stop the Chop” finding significant political support. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people supportive of the eVTOL heliport buildout have highlighted the relative noiselessness of the vehicles.

”Investing in sustainable helicopter infrastructure at the Downtown Heliport to reduce unnecessary noise and air pollution is a positive step in the right direction. I appreciate the city’s efforts to address the quality of life and public health issues caused by helicopters,” District 6 City Councilmember Gale Brewer noted, in a telling instance of the citywide support that heliport reconfiguration has drawn. Brewer represents the Upper West Side.