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US News Doors-Off Helicopter Flights Under Scrutiny After Five Passengers in East River Crash Are Trapped Underwater

05:25  13 march  2018
05:25  13 march  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

M1 minibus crash: Two lorry drivers facing jail over M1 crash which killed eight people

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Doors - Off Helicopter Flights Under Scrutiny After East River Crash .

Doors - Off Helicopter Flights Under Scrutiny After East River Crash MARCH 12, 2018. Firefighter, Journalist and Tourist Among Victims of Helicopter Crash MARCH 12, 2018.

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Two dead after helicopter crashes in New York City's East River

  Two dead after helicopter crashes in New York City's East River <p>A helicopter crashed in New York City's East River on Sunday, killing at least two people, and emergency divers were in the water around the partially submerged aircraft, according to officials.</p>Eric Phillips, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a post on Twitter there was "at least one survivor, at least two fatalities. Divers are still in the water.

Helicopter crash safety concerns persist at Heli -Expo. Latest Headlines. Helicopter crash in New York’s East River kills five .

Under the watchful eye of diver Mike Mulford, Dayne Eisele goes underwater to practice breathing with a Over five decades, dozens of military and oil field transports have crashed in the water with Helicopter -escape lessons are relevant for anybody at risk of being trapped in a vehicle that tumbles

The five passengers who were killed when a helicopter without doors splashed into the East River on Sunday night were cinched into heavy-duty harnesses and tied to the helicopter floor with only a knife to free themselves from frigid waters. Given nothing more than a brief safety video beforehand, they were left at the mercy of stiff southbound currents as the helicopter dragged them 50 blocks, upside down and underwater, before rescue divers could cut them free.

The crash — the deadliest involving a helicopter in New York City since 2009 — exposed what aviation experts called startling safety gaps in the fast-growing industry of doors-off photo flights, once reserved for professional photographers but increasingly marketed to tourists looking to dangle their feet outside and share stomach-churning pictures of the skyline on Instagram. In major cities, including Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, sightseers who are untrained, unaware of proper escape maneuvers and underdressed for wind-whipped conditions routinely climb into the doors-off helicopters, with regulatory agencies providing scant oversight.

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NEW YORK (AP) — A helicopter crashed into New York City's East River Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water , killing all five passengers aboard, officials said. A spokesman for the NYPD confirmed the deaths to The Associated Press early Monday.

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Before circling the Statue of Liberty and heading toward Manhattan on Sunday night, passengers watched a roughly 10-minute video that showed them a knife in their harnesses they could use to free themselves if they got trapped. But that was all. It was unclear if the flight staff pointed out the knives once they were strapped in, leaving at least one passenger on another flight oblivious about where it was. The pre-flight briefing also did not include any discussion about how to saw through the nylon ties should the helicopter need to ditch in the water surrounding Manhattan.

The harnesses, tangles of thick straps and metal clasps that let tourists lean out over the skyline without worry, quickly became underwater death traps.

“It’s not regulated and it should not be allowed,” said Gary Robb, an aviation lawyer who represented a cameraman who was killed when a doors-off helicopter hit a power line in Iowa in 2006. “It’s like allowing someone to walk on the wing of an airplane, and in my judgment poses too much of a risk.”

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The helicopter crashed into the East River on Sunday evening with five passengers inside. All of them were killed in the sinking aircraft, and only the pilot was able to make it out alive.

NEW YORK-- A private charter helicopter hired for a photo shoot crashed into New York City's East River on Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water , killing all five passengers aboard, officials said.

Investigators were wrestling with a thicket of questions after the crash. Among them were what caused it, why the helicopter’s yellow inflatable pontoons did not keep it from flipping over and sinking and what more, if anything, the pilot could have done afterward to save his passengers.

a boat that is sitting in front of a building: The helicopter is hoisted from the East River and put onto a barge on Monday. © Mark Lennihan/Associated Press The helicopter is hoisted from the East River and put onto a barge on Monday.

The pilot, Richard Vance, 33, said on a mayday call that there was “engine failure.” He later told investigators that the fuel shut-off switch may have inadvertently been hit by passengers or somehow became wrapped up in onboard equipment or a strap. Aviation experts said it was not clear how that could have happened, given that the switch was on the floor in the front area of the cabin as well as the safeguards around loose objects on a doors-off flight.

Aviation experts said the helicopter appeared in cellphone video to have made a gradual descent that passengers could have survived, had the helicopter not tipped over and submerged. That raised questions about whether the pontoons — flotation devices activated by the pilot or by contact with water that run along the landing skids to cushion a fall — were properly inflated. Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference on Monday that all the pontoons deployed, but they were examining how quickly and in what order and whether they had been properly maintained.

PICTURED: The doomed New York City helicopter passengers minutes before the chopper crashed and drowned in the East River as it's revealed the pilot 'blamed the accident on one of their bags hitting the emergency fuel shutoff button'

  PICTURED: The doomed New York City helicopter passengers minutes before the chopper crashed and drowned in the East River as it's revealed the pilot 'blamed the accident on one of their bags hitting the emergency fuel shutoff button' A victim in Sunday's New York City helicopter crash recorded video of the chopper taking off before the fatal accident. His friend Brian McDaniel, a firefighter from Dallas, gives a thumbs up from the back of the helicopter, seated between two other passengers. © Twitter Texas video journalist Trevor Cadigan looks excited as the helicopter begins to lift off the ground. He then switches the video to record the view as the helicopter lifts up and off the helipad.

ALL five passengers have tragically died after a helicopter crashed into New York City's East River and flipped upside down in the water . Helicopter crashes into New York’s East River with at least five people trapped inside.

The five passengers — four men and a woman — all died. The crash revived calls for helicopter tours to be restricted over Manhattan and raised questions about the safety of amateurs being allowed on so-called photo Once it splashed into the East River , the helicopter flipped over and began sinking.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, called on the Federal Aviation Administration to issue an emergency order and temporarily suspend the license of Liberty Helicopters, the large sightseeing and charter company that owns and operates the Eurocopter AS350 that crashed.

The company has a checkered safety record. It was also involved in a collision over the Hudson River in 2009, in which a helicopter ascended to the altitude of a small private plane and hit the aircraft, killing six people on the helicopter and three on the plane.

Two years earlier a Liberty tour helicopter crashed into the Hudson River; all the occupants survived.

Previous crashes have often prompted calls by elected officials to restrict helicopter traffic in the crowded skies over Manhattan. But aviation experts on Monday homed in on the lightly regulated, little-known industry of doors-off photo flights.

The N.T.S.B. investigators said it was legal for the helicopter that crashed to have its doors open, but answered few other questions about whether it had prior mechanical problems or whether it met any regulatory requirements for doors-off flights. Investigators said they would look at whether the harnesses worked properly.

The pilot spoke with local investigators after the crash and the N.T.S.B. said it would also seek an interview.

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NEW YORK, March 12 (Xinhua) -- A helicopter crashed into New York City's East River Sunday night and flipped upside down in the water , killing all five passengers aboard, police confirmed.

The five passengers trapped in a helicopter that ditched into the East River off New York on Sunday night may have died because they were wearing hard-to-remove harnesses. The harness is one of several equipment issues being investigated after the fatal crash .

The helicopter, which was booked through FlyNYON, a company that specializes in doors-off helicopter photo tours, had taken off from New Jersey a short while before it encountered trouble.

“He pointed away from the city and toward the river,” a law enforcement official said, referring to the pilot. “He didn’t want to go down in Manhattan, so he went toward the river, because it seemed like the best option for a landing.”

Once it splashed into the East River, the helicopter flipped over and began sinking.

A tugboat, the Foxy 3, was returning to its base on Staten Island when the men aboard apparently heard the mayday call, the official said. They helped rescue the captain and tied off the helicopter to keep it from sinking 50 feet to the bottom of the river.

Law enforcement officials lauded the men aboard the tug for their quick response.

With the current in the East River between Manhattan and Queens running south at about three knots and the downed helicopter lashed to the tug, rescue divers had only one option.

They told the tugboat captain to cut the propellers and resigned themselves to drifting with the current as they tried to cut five passengers out of the doorless helicopter, their bodies underwater.

By the time the divers plucked them out, it was too late. The five passengers — four men and a woman — all died. On Monday, they were identified as Daniel Thompson, 34, and Tristan Hill, 29, both from New York; Trevor Cadigan and Brian McDaniel, both 26 from Dallas; and Carla Vallejos Blanco, 29, who was from Argentina.

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Five people have died after a helicopter crashed into New York’s East River at 7.15pm local time on Sunday night. Only the pilot survived the crash after freeing himself before being rescued by a tugboat. All five passengers were trapped inside because they were strapped to their seats and

NEW YORK — All five passengers aboard a helicopter that crashed into New York City’s East River were confirmed dead early Monday morning by a NYPD spokesman. The pilot was able to escape the Sunday night crash after the aircraft flipped upside down in the water , officials said.

New York City police and firefighter divers appeared to free the female passenger soon after submerging, but it may have taken until the helicopter drifted from 86th Street to a pier at 34th Street for the divers to free the rest of the passengers, the law enforcement official said.

Eric Adams, an aviation journalist and photographer who was aboard another FlyNYON helicopter tour taking place at the same time as the crash, said that he had been with the victims during a safety briefing and as they boarded.

Mr. Adams said riders were strapped in from the rear, with a carabiner on their back attaching the harness to a nylon tether that connected to the helicopter floor. That made it extremely difficult to wriggle out of the harnesses, he said.

After a short safety video, Mr. Adams said the flight staff never pointed out where the knives on their harnesses were.

“The training that we had before takeoff wasn’t good enough to prepare anybody for what could happen,” he said in an interview. “They just need a better harness system. They’re not adequate.”

FlyNYON Air and Liberty Helicopters said in separate statements that they were cooperating with the federal investigations.

The first 911 call came in at 7:07 p.m., as startled onlookers along the East River promenade and in their apartments watched the helicopter descend.

Within a minute the call was routed to an ambulance, the law enforcement official said, and soon Fire Department and Police Department sea rescue experts were working to respond.

By 7:11 p.m., a 911 caller reported seeing the Police Department’s harbor unit on the scene, and five minutes later the harbor unit came on the police radio and said it had arrived.

A helicopter with divers and a second harbor unit boat were also at the scene by 7:16 p.m., the official said.

They could not dive in with the tugboat’s propellers still whirring, so the tugboat shut down its motor and, with the helicopter attached and the divers going under, began floating south.

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