Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

FAA Bans 'Doors-Off' Flights After Deadly NYC Helicopter Crash

FAA Bans 'Doors-Off' Flights After Deadly NYC Helicopter Crash

The announcement came five days after five people died when a tour helicopter autorotated into New York's East River and rolled over.

Open door flights allow for better photographs of the city skyline and cost slightly more than a regular sightseeing flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday banned "open-door" helicopter flights where passengers are strapped into hard-to-undo harnesses - after one such flight crashed into the East River on Sunday, killing five.

Helicopter operators, pilots, and consumers should be aware of the hazard from supplemental restraint devices during an emergency evacuation during "doors off" flights.

The FAA will order a halt to such flights that "involve restraints that can not be released quickly in an emergency". Although the pilot escaped, five passengers apparently drowned because they couldn't release harnesses meant to keep them secure with open doors.


FAA also said it will conduct a top-to-bottom review of its rules governing helicopter flights, to examine any potential policies that could create safety gaps for passengers. The passengers bought tickets for the flight through FlyNYON, which advertised its harnesses and doors-off helicopter rides earlier in the day Sunday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash.

Following the crash, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said divers had to cut passengers out of their harnesses.

Liberty Helicopters has referred all inquiries to federal officials.

Although no cause has been cited, the pilot told investigators that passenger luggage may have inadvertently bumped the helicopter's fuel cutoff valve, stopping the engine.

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