What to Know
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday said the company that chartered a chopper in a deadly East River crash still offers similar flights
Five people died when a helicopter chartered for the day by FlyNYON crashed into the river. They couldn't escape from their harnesses
The deadly chopper was owned and operated by Liberty Helicopters; FlyNYON says it now only uses its own fleet
The company that chartered the “doors-off” helicopter that crashed into the East River in March, killing its five passengers, is still offering similar flights at a discount despite the fact that it’s under federal investigation, Sen. Chuck Schumer said.
The five passengers drowned when they were unable to free themselves from their harnesses after the chopper, owned and operated by Liberty Helicopters but chartered by FlyNYON for the day, crashed into the water on March 11.
Schumer said Sunday that FlyNYON is now offering a 40 percent “October sale” discount on “the exact same doors-off flights.”
FlyNYON says it now uses its own fleet of helicopters for doors-off flights in New York and does not rely on a charter. In addition, a FlyNYON spokesperson said in a statement that, “We have continued to operate in compliance with FAA regulations, and have made numerous safety improvements since March to ensure our customers have the best possible experience with FlyNYON. We await the results of the NTSB investigation.”
Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating these flights.
Schumer said FlyNYON should not be offering a discount on similar flights with those investigations still pending.
“For FlyNYON to offer a 40 percent discount on a doors-off flight when we still don’t know 100 percent of what went wrong during the East River chopper crash should be alarming to the feds and fliers alike,” Schumer said in a statement.
“Moreover, the aggressive marketing campaign that uses social media and geo-tracking to hype up the flights and court consumers doesn’t seem to alert potential customers to the current investigation or the risks involved,” he added.
A month after the deadly crash, the New York Times reported that pilots for FlyNYON had expressed concerns about the choppers’ harnesses, among other safety concerns, to management.
Schumer on Sunday called on FlyNYON to suspend the flights until the investigations are complete.
“I’ve asked for this before, and to their credit and the FAA’s, the company did the right thing and suspended those flights, but it would appear that months later an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the same doors-off flights could fly under the radar, and that should not happen,” he said.