Members of Congress urge de Blasio to ban most helicopter flights after fatal crash

Members of Congress urge de Blasio to ban most helicopter flights after fatal crash

A group of New York representatives say the mayor doesn’t need FAA approval to shut down city-owned launch sites.

Helicopter flights over the city pose a risk to New Yorkers' quality of life, health and safety, say a group of New York lawmakers.
Helicopter flights over the city pose a risk to New Yorkers’ quality of life, health and safety, say a group of New York lawmakers. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

A group of New York Congress members is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to put a halt to all nonessential helicopter flights in the city after last month’s chopper crash in midtown that took the life of pilot Tim McCormack.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng, Jerrold Nadler, Adriano Espaillat and Thomas Suozzi sent a letter to the mayor Monday that called on him to stop those flights because of the risk to New Yorkers’ quality of life, health and safety, saying they’d already written to him about the impact of helicopters several times over the course of his administration.  

"There is no justification for allowing tourists to joy-ride through our skies, endangering people below and adding to the heavy burden of noise pollution residents must endure," the lawmakers wrote. 

The mayor has supported a ban on nonessential helicopters and reiterated that position days after the crash on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show  — something the letter’s authors said they found encouraging. But they noted that the copter in last month’s crash took off from the 34th Street helipad and the mayor need not wait for FAA approval to shut down the city-owned site. 

Later Monday evening, the mayor’s office said he was committed to limiting all non-essential copter flights in the city, and pursuing all options. 

The congressional lawmakers wrote that last month they made a similar request to acting FAA administrator Daniel K. Elwell asking that he put an end to the flights.  

The letter referenced an NTSB report that said the June 10 crash on the roof of the AXA Equitable Building on Seventh Avenue was the 30th fatal helicopter crash in New York since 1980.  

Ivan Pereira