MANHATTAN, N.Y. — New York Democratic Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer called for tightening regulations for helicopters including requiring helicopters to fly with “black box” flight recorders. Senator Schumer said that helicopters should have them just as federal regulations require airplanes to have them onboard. Senator Schumer told the New York Daily News, among other news outlets assembled Sunday, June 16, 2019, that records and preserves flight data along with communications made to and from the cockpit. Senator Schumer’s comments come on the heels of a deadly helicopter crash that occurred in Manhattan on Monday, June 10, 2019, during a severe late-spring storm.
Senator Schumer rationalized his call to increase regulations to include black boxes in helicopters by saying that despite strictly limiting a helicopter’s airspace and regulating when they can fly, the need for data and voice recorders is needed to reconstruct accidents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that commercial flights, corporate airliners, and some other planes have two black boxes on board at all times.
The absence of a voice and a data recorded onboard of the doomed helicopter that crashed on top of the AXA Equitable Center might thwart efforts of the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, to reconstruct the accident and determine why the chopper crashed. The aircraft, an Augusta A109E, was aloft for a short time when heavy rain and winds caused the helicopter to crash on the roof of the AXA Equitable Center. Data and voice recorders, respectively, help investigators figure out what happened to a downed aircraft by allowing them to assemble an illustration of the event.
The NTSB has advocated for black boxes on helicopters. The FAA denies the utility of requiring the technology. The FAA argues that requiring black boxes is exceedingly expensive and will not help save lives. The FAA supports the NTSB investigation into the helicopter crash but has no intention at this time of amending its regulations notwithstanding Uber partnering with a helicopter company to offer lifts from lower Manhattan to NYC’s airports — an eight-minute ride by air — for $200.00 in July.
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