FAA should require black boxes in helicopters, Schumer says

FDNY firefighters stationed at the scene of a fatal helicopter crash last week.
FDNY firefighters stationed at the scene of a fatal helicopter crash last week. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Don Emmert

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday called for the Federal Aviation Administration to mandate flight data recorders in helicopters, citing last week’s fatal crash in Midtown.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary investigation into Monday’s crash, which killed pilot Tim McCormack, found that the aircraft did not have a flight data recorder or black box. The board, a government agency charged with improving transportation safety, has urged the FAA since 2011 to mandate that all helicopters have these devices. The FAA has yet to act on this recommendation.

Schumer, the Senate’s minority leader, speculated that the FAA has not instituted this rule because of the costs associated with it. 

"In the name of safety, the FAA must take another look at the NTSB’s reports on chopper crashes similar to the one in New York City just last week and propel the safety measures that have been collecting dust for far too long,” Schumer said in a statement.

The FAA did not return requests for comment. 

Black boxes record more than a thousand data points, including the speed and altitude of flights. Investigators have been able to piece together crucial information from this data and determine the causes of air crashes and catastrophes, according to Schumer.

"We do this for commercial planes, so it makes all the sense in the world for choppers, too," Schumer said in a statement.

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