'Doors off' chopper flights restricted after deadly NYC crash


"The Inspector General and the NTSB should immediately launch an investigation to examine how exactly these flights were ever given the green light and ensure that helicopter operators across the country are adhering to modern safety regulations".

FDNY officials believe the sightseers largely drowned because they were unable to break free from their harnesses after the helicopter landed and flipped upside down in the cold water. The 33-year-old pilot Richard Vance survived the crash.

The agency is now calling on all operators and pilots of these types of helicopter flights to take the appropriate measures to reduce risk to passengers. The flight was a Liberty Helicopter charter and the aircraft was designed with the doors off in an effort to enable passengers to be able to take photographs while in flight. New York Fire Department divers had to cut the passengers' bodies loose.

The announcement comes in the wake of the helicopter crash that killed five people last weekend.

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The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered an immediate halt on any "doors-off" helicopter flights, which don't allow passengers to quickly and easily get out in the case of an emergency. The FAA said it would also conduct a "top to bottom review" of its rules covering open-door flights.

The FAA said Tuesday it was giving "urgent attention" to the use of harnesses specifically for aerial photography flights.

"Until then, the FAA will order no more "doors off" operations that involve restraints that can not be released quickly in an emergency", the FAA said in a statement.

Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the NTSB, which is now leading the investigation into the incident, said in a statement that "as with all NTSB investigations, it will examine all aspects of safety in these types of operations". He first landed on the beat at his hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, in 2014.