April 18 (UPI) — New York City will not allow doors-off tourist helicopter flights from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, following a fatal crash last month.
No doors-off flights presently depart from the heliport, but the New York City Economic Development Corporation announced an agreement Wednesday to institute a ban of such flights as a permanent policy moving forward.
“It is our hope that by officially banning doors-off helicopter flights out of New York City, we will help improve air safety within the five boroughs,” NYCEDC President James Patchett said.
NYCEDC senior director of aviation David Hopkins said the agreement only affects flights leaving from New York City-controlled heliports and no decision has been reached regarding helicopters taking off from nearby areas, such as New Jersey.
The decision comes after an open door flight for a photography shoot that took off from New Jersey crashed in the East River on March 11, killing five people.
“By calling for today’s hearing of the Committee on Economic Development, we were hopeful that immediate positive safety changes would occur for helicopter aviation in the city,” council member Paul Vallone said. “This agreement is very welcomed news and takes a huge step in the right direction.”
On March 16 the Federal Aviation Administration announced it will no longer allow doors-off helicopter flights unless passenger safety harnesses can be quickly and easily unfastened in the event of an emergency.