New York helicopter crash reignites lawmakers concern

A private helicopter crashed on the roof of a 54-story building in New York City. The pilot died on impact, no other victims are reported.

According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the Agusta A109E Power, registered N200BK, and owned by real estate investor Daniele Bodini, took off from East 34th Street Heliport while Manhattan was covered with thick fog. Eleven minutes after takeoff, the helicopter crashed into the AXA Equitable Center, situated not far from Times Square. The 229.3-meter (752-foot) tall edifice, which houses several offices, was evacuated as the aircraft caught fire.

“We have no indication of any connection with terrorism,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, during a press briefing. He added that the helicopter, which was listed as carrying out a business flight, had not been cleared to take off from the control tower at the nearest airport, La Guardia, as it may be required to do so under certain circumstances. The FAA confirmed in a statement that air traffic controllers “did not handle the flight”.

Footage filmed from the ground by Wendy Slater, an onlooker, has emerged online, showing the helicopter flying “erratically” in the adverse weather minutes before the crash.

An investigation was opened by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine the causes of the accident.

FAA records show that the pilot had been flying for 15 years. He was described as a“highly experienced, highly trained commercial helicopter pilot” by Paul Dudley, the manager of Linden Airport where the helicopter was based, interviewed by the North Jersey Record.

In a press conference, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney asked for a restriction on helicopter flights above the city. “It is past time for the FAA to ban unnecessary helicopters from the skies over our densely-packed urban city,” said Maloney, as quoted by CNN, adding “the risks to New Yorkers are just too high”.

In 2018 already, the security of helicopter flights around Manhattan came under question after a tourist helicopter crashed on March 11, 2018, killing five people. The helicopter pilot, the sole survivor of the accident, had reported engine failure to an air traffic controller before crashing into the river near Roosevelt Island.


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