New York Congresswoman Calling For Ban On All Non-Essential Helicopter Flights Over Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the wake of Monday’s deadly crash in Midtown, there have been renewed calls to ban helicopters from flying over Manhattan.

New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said she’s requested several times for changes to flight restrictions, especially after last year’s crash in the East River that killed five people, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.

The question that was asked over and over again following the crash, which killed pilot Tim McCormack and ignited a fire on the Axa Equitable building’s roof, was what was the helicopter even doing in the area, flying so low on such a foggy day, and in a restricted flight zone?

That’ll all be part of the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation. But on Monday night, some local lawmakers argued if helicopters were banned in the city altogether, the accident never would have happened.

There isn’t much left of the Agusta A109E chopper now after it crashed at the top of a 54-floor building in Midtown. Aviation experts describe the model as relatively luxurious and most popular with executive transport.

“If he hadn’t been flying in fog over the most densely populated area in the world he would have not crashed,” Rep. Maloney said.

Maloney, who represents the district where the accident happened, is calling for a ban on all non-essential helicopters over Manhattan, such as for private transit and tours.

“It is just too densely populated. It is too dangerous and there is absolutely no safe place to land,” Maloney said.

Helicopters have been banned from landing on rooftops in New York since a crash into the Pan Am Building — now the MetLife Building — in 1977. Last year, all five passengers aboard a helicopter tour died after crashing into the East River.

“It’s unfortunate what happened to the pilot, but I think they’re generally safe,” Midtown resident Bill Arnold said of Monday’s crash.

“That’s a huge liability to have these private, commercial helicopters or planes flying over the city,” Alec Tebbenhoff added.

Aviation expert Al Yurman argues the Federal Aviation Administration already has sufficient rules for flying safely over the city, as long as they’re properly followed.

“All helicopters have to be in communications with an air-traffic control facility, probably LaGuardia or Newark and once they get in contact with that facility, they get positive radar and they can keep the aircraft separated,” Yurman said. “So the rules are in place, the altitude restrictions are in place, and there’s always been weather restrictions.”

Despite all that, Maloney said she’s pushing forward with her plan.

“We will start the negotiations with the FAA, will call for public hearings, we will call for public meetings, we will call for what safety procedures were violated and and we will continue to hold them accountable for what happened,” she said.

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