Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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State Senator Daniel Squadron Calls For Reduction In Manhattan Air Traffic Following Helicopter Crash

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TWC News: State Senator Daniel Squadron Calls For Reduction In Manhattan Air Traffic Following Helicopter Crash
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A helicopter crash in the East River didn’t seem to faze tourists waiting at a Downtown Manhattan heliport Wednesday, but State Senator Daniel Squadron is nonetheless pushing for an end to aerial tours around the island. NY1’s Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.

It was business as usual at the Downtown Manhattan heliport Wednesday with lines as long as ever.

Just one day after that fatal helicopter crash in the East River, people NY1 spoke with weren't fazed.

"I was on the phone making reservations when I looked at TV and saw the helicopter crash. Didn't bother me one bit," said one visitor.

"It didn't really daunt us that much because we thought lightning can't strike twice," said another.

NY1 did speak with a few people who paused before boarding, even if just for a second.

“Yeah, definitely, but my father's a pilot, a colleague of mine's a pilot, as well, so we weren't afraid to step into the helicopter," said a visitor.

"Once we got up we were fine. They felt very professional and very safe,” said another.

Off-camera, people who work at the heliport told NY1 that Wednesday was just like any other day.

While there's constant chopper activity at the heliport, some politicians are renewing their call to regulate helicopter traffic, suggesting tourist flights stop altogether.

"It's very clear: A trip originating and ending in Manhattan, that's not essential, that's a tour, and it's just too crowded. Manhattan is the most crowded island in the country and to have this volume of air traffic doesn't make sense," said Manhattan and Brooklyn State Senator Daniel Squadron.

Squadron said that all that's needed to make that happen is for the city's Economic Development Corporation, which owns the heliport, to agree to stop those flights.

However, an organization representing helicopter operators countered that a ban would serve no purpose.

“As the NTSB has stated, this was not a tourist flight or operation, for which there are a specific series of rules and regulations that differ from general aviation flights like the helicopter involved in yesterday’s incident. Any banning of tourist flights would not have prevented this tragedy," said a spokesperson for the Eastern Region Helicopter Council.

The group said it's always working to improve helicopter safety and that it welcomes any suggestions that would help do just that.

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