Legislators Want to Halt Helicopter Flights Over Manhattan

Potential legislation would not include fixed-wing aircraft

Liberty Helicopters Ride over Central Park
NTSB says 30 accidents have occurred over Manhattan since 1983.Liberty Helicopters

What the New York Daily News calls a "group of powerful New York lawmakers" wants to see "non-essential" helicopter flights over downtown Manhattan come to a grinding halt. The action comes just a week after an Augusta 109E owned by American Continental Properties crashed onto the roof of a skyscraper shortly after it took off from the 34th Street Heliport. Weather at the time of the accident was reported as very poor with visibility of about ½ mile beneath a 400-foot ceiling.

Local New York lawmakers wrote a letter to the FAA’s acting administrator Daniel Elwell claiming helicopter flights pose an “intolerable risk to the public.” The group wants Elwell and the agency to begin posting temporary flight restrictions over Manhattan. CBS News in New York reported, “there have been at least 30 helicopter accidents over Manhattan since 1983.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney said she would hold the agency accountable and vowed to create legislation if that’s what it takes to reduce the number of flights. She said she doesn’t believe that executive travel and tourist flights would qualify as “essential.” The Daily News reported the letter to Elwell warned, "It could have been far worse had the helicopter crashed into the Midtown streets below or into a building," noting the crash happened near Trump Tower, the president's private residence.