Helicopter Crash Prompts Changes to Door Policy

Clay Curtis
March 20, 2018

On Friday, the FAA announced it is temporarily restricting "doors-off" flights unless passenger restraints can be quickly released during an emergency.

The FAA has issued an immediate ban on certain "doors-off" helicopter flights nationwide in the aftermath of the photo tour helicopter crash in New York City this week. The five passengers who were wearing harnesses drowned.

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. Their lawyer, Gary C. Robb, said the restraints fasten in the back and are hard to unlatch, especially when a helicopter is tossed upside down. "Doors-off flights and this questionable restraint system should have been grounded from day one".

"While I applaud the FAA for quickly moving to halt these types of helicopter flights, I am demanding to know how they were allowed to take off in the first place".

No news on when the ban will lift, but in the meantime the FAA vows to "conduct a top to bottom review of its rules governing these flights". Chuck Schumer said Sunday that the agency's inspector general should probe why the unsafe practice was ever permitted.

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The helicopter was owned by Liberty Helicopters.

The announcement comes in the wake of the helicopter crash that killed five people last weekend. The official was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about it and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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

"Their goal with this legal action has always been primarily to see that no one else dies because of this practice", Robb said.

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