NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced an amendment to its agreement with Firstflight Heliports, LLC, d/b/a/ Saker Aviation Services, to ban doors-off helicopter tourism flights from operating out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport (DMH). No doors-off flights presently depart from the DMH, and this new amendment ensures that practice will be codified as permanent policy.
The move follows the tragic doors’ off helicopter crash of a New Jersey-based helicopter in the East River on March 11, 2018 in which five victims perished, and it represents efforts by NYCEDC and local elected officials to ensure that New York City-based facilities remain first-in-class with respect to safety.
“It is our hope that by officially banning doors-off helicopter flights out of New York City, we will help improve air safety within the five boroughs,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “We are thankful for the leadership and advocacy of the City Council on this important issue.”
“By calling for today’s hearing of the Committee on Economic Development, we were hopeful that immediate positive safety changes would occur for helicopter aviation in the city,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the NYC Economic Development Committee. “This agreement is very welcomed news and takes a huge step in the right direction.”
“When it comes to helicopter tour flights, there is nothing more important than the safety of tour passengers and the quality of life of New Yorkers on the ground," Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Carlos Menchaca, and Helen Rosenthal collectively said. "While EDC’s decision to formalize a ban on ‘open-door’ flights is a positive step, more work needs to be done to ensure the safety of those flying above the city, as well as address the negative impacts of excessive noise and air pollution caused by these helicopters. We look forward to working with EDC to send a strong message to the helicopter tour industry that the safety of residents and visitors to our city must come first.”
In addition to supporting economic activity in Lower Manhattan, the DMH serves as a critical part of the city’s transportation infrastructure. It was one of the first facilities in operation following Hurricane Sandy and served as a staging area for storm recovery operations.
New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.