NTSB Chairman: East River Helicopter Crash Victims Didn’t Have To Die

Marla Diamond
December 10, 2019 - 3:09 pm
Helicopter Crashes Into New York City's East River

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released the probable cause of the sightseeing helicopter crash that killed five people in the East River in March 2018.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt says the helicopter’s landing was survivable, but it was turned deadly because the company exploited a regulatory loophole to avoid stricter safety requirements.

“The NYONair provided tether system contributed to the passenger fatalities because it did not allow the passengers to quickly escape from the helicopter,” Sumwalt said.

Further complicating matters was the pilots inability to fully inflate the floats, causing the helicopter to sink rapidly and trap the five passengers inside.

The agency has recommenced tighter restrictions on so called off door helicopter tour flights, which were once used solely for aerial photography.

NTSB officials say it is “madness” to allow the thrill of such an experience to be spiked with unnecessary risk to passengers, crew and innocent bystanders.