Lawmakers Call For Ban Of All Tourist Chopper Flights Over NYC River Corridors

28 Crashes In The City Since 1983; FAA So Far Silent On The Issue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ground the choppers!

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond With Rep. Jerrold Nadler

That’s what a group of lawmakers were demanding Wednesday. They want all tourist helicopters banned from Manhattan’s busy air corridors, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports.

Is it safe to have such a high volume of helicopter traffic over our city? That’s what many New York politicians want to know.

“I have written the FAA to see if the frequent numbers of helicopters going across the East River and in that vicinity is safe or not. Thank heavens they weren’t going over buildings, Marcia, or there would be a tremendous loss of life,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan.

Maloney pointed out that there have been at least 28 helicopter crashes over the city since 1983, resulting in at least 18 deaths and 43 injuries.

In June 2005, two different choppers went down three days apart and in August 2009 a tourist helicopter and a small plane hit in midair, killing nine.

Maloney said she wants a chopper ban.

“Tourism travel should not be permitted. It’s too dangerous,” Maloney said.

The public has no idea how very crowded the Hudson River and East River corridors really are unless you fly them yourself. Kramer stepped aboard Chopper 2 and watched helicopters coming and going and coming and going and at the Wall Street helipad there were five choppers coming in and taking off at the very same time.

The pictures Kramer took in the air and on the ground show lots and lots of chopper activity.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s disaster some — like this group of tourists from France — decided to forgo a chopper ride.

“We gonna think about it because they didn’t have all the information about the crash. We can’t go ahead,” Fabienne Parnet said.

But not everyone seemed worried.

“I’m not particularly concerned. We drive in cars every day despite the fact that there are cars crashed every day, so I’m sure, especially after an incident like that, safety will be top notch,” said John Byrd of Toronto.

Despite the calls for a chopper ban it’s unlikely any decision will be made until the investigation into Tuesday’s crash is complete.

The Federal Aviation Administration is aware of the politicians’ demands, but did not return Kramer’s calls for comment.

Do you think this is a good idea or an overreaction? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Marcia Kramer
  • Concerned

    The Tour Helo’s are only after making money, and safety takes a second seat.Comparing auto’s to helo’s is like the old apple and orange comparison.These helo;s buzz around NYC and NJ without too much reguard for anything.They are aloud to fly tours when White House VIP’s or UN VIP’s are near. Air Traffic Control can not even control all of them since there are so many. These helo’s want to fly where they want, when they want, or else they complain. Safety needs to come first instead of money.

  • BlackDog

    Couldn’t we just ‘legislate’ a season for them? You know, two weeks in June or October, and thin the herd!

  • Ethernet

    Oh my, thats all we need. Another reason for the Dems to take away our freedoms.

  • dan phillips

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s statement that there would have been tremendous loss of life if the accident had happened over buildings is pure sensationalism unless she can prove that she has a direct line to The Almighty for situations like this. More likely, small airplane, big building = not much damage or injury/death to humans. Seems like this woman should be talking about fixing budget/economy/deficit rather than “quacking” on about something like this!!!

  • Tim W

    28 helicopter crashes since 1983, resulting in at least 18 deaths and 43 injuries in Manhattan……… how many motor vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries in Manhattan since 1983 ? Maybe its to time to ban all vehicles too !

  • Kenneth Cowles

    They don’t need to ban anything. What is needed is an FAA certified control tower with specific traffic arrival and departure procedures. With that kind of traffic and I have flown the corridor that is what is needed.

  • Adrastos

    helicopters flying all over are a nusiance to the city, and are too noisy.
    last summer there were 7 choppers flying around Govenors island, that was an accident waiting to happen, no to mention the noise it generates.
    What is wrong with our dumb ass Mayor Bloomie, that he doesnt want to ban these retarded flights for the good of the citizens on ny.

    • ski2exs

      Yeah. . . and when I was there last. . all the darned noise and pollution from the CARS was just . . overwhelming. Not to mention all the accidents, destruction and loss of life they brought.

      Seriously folks What is wrong with people that they wouldn’t want to ban these retarded vehicles that maime, kill and devestate the lives of 1000’s every year in NYC alone. Heaven forbid we add the 18 deaths and 43 injuries attributed to helicopters. . . . .Is there an eye rolling icon here somewhere??

    • ski2exs

      Oh. . .and hey! Did you know that pollution is the #2 cause for lung cancer (Radon being #1). . . where’s old Carolyn Maloney advocating for the ban on all pollutants attributed to this devastating loss of life?

      Get real people. . .18 deaths and 43 injuries. Yeah, it’s sad. But are we going to add another limit to our freedoms in an already overzealous ‘nanny state’ all in the name of “We’re here to SAVE you”

      • sym

        Nail on the head. Sad for those who died, but they had the right to chose.

    • Anthony Scheeler

      if you want peace and quiet, move away from NYC!!!!



  • Junior

    The heli crash has NOTHING to do with sightseeing. It was not a sighseeing tour, it was a private tour being provided by the pilot to his friends. These tours bring in lots of money to the city. There are car accidents in NYC all the time, what next, ban cars??? This is just some more small BS for the politicians to make a big stink over to mask the reality they are incapable of taking care of the real problems at hand!

  • basil fomine


  • Barryinnnyc

    So it is okay for the VIP helicpoters to use the lanes but a money making industry (that provides tax revenue as well as bring tourists to the city) should be disbaned because of some accidents. Why is it when something terriable happens we have politicans say they are for ending it but before something terriable happens no one is concerned of safety. I find it ridiculous that politicans use the public fear to make everyone believe they are helping the public. @barryinnnyc

  • John M

    As a helicopter pilot who is familiar with some facts here (unlike the politicians seem to be), I feel compelled to comment. First, since a commercial tour helicopter was not involved, this accident should provide little rationale to restrict tour companies. The tour operators that I am aware of fly float-equipped helicopters which have made successful emergency landings on their floats. Secondly, the tours do not take off over land, so people on the ground are not endangered when incidents like this occur. Thirdly, when helicopters experience an engine or tail rotor failure, they can perform a successful autorotation landing – if they have enough altitude – hence people should not worry about helicopters flying high over their head. Takeoff and landing are the most risky phases of flight (helicopter or fixed wing) – there are steps which are taken to manage these risks, one of which I mentioned. Politicians should shut up if they don’t know the facts (one exception is Mayor Bloomberg who is a helicopter pilot himself and is likely to say intelligent things in a situation such as this).

  • goblin

    Maybe we need more laws to ban every mode of transport. This is the only way to keep us all safe. I’m so glad we have lawmakers that help make decisions for me as I’m not able to think for myself and choose.

  • ATCS

    Yes. A ban on Tour Helo’s is a very safe idea, however safety is not a concern of the FAA or the tour operators since the bottom line is money. Money always wins over safety, and that is the cold hard fact no matter how many have died, or will die. Kearney Heloport recently opened 1 mile next to Newark Airports busy final. You wanna talk about unsafe, and somewhere a ban should be placed..but talks.

    • Ethernet

      Yeah, and how about a ban on hydrogen dioxide too, that causes 100’s of thousands of deaths a year. Something must be done.

      • NightShifts

        Hydrogen Dioxide. What a good morning chuckle. Seriously, more folks die per week from choking on eggrolls. Yet the Star Buffet down the street still operates. An eggroll obvioulsy poses less risk, of course. But consider cruising around in a tin can hundreds of feet in the air, with less horsepower than an 89 Escort on/in a route comparable to rush hour on Friday. Simply, if you don’t understand these simple risks, which generally come from common sense, then don’t fly. If you know them and are fine with them, fly away, Boss. No one should be restricted from making the choice. And no business should be legislated into bankruptcy in the name of “we know better than you”.

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