Same Operator as East River Crash
FAA and NTSB point to Harnesses
FAA alleged problems disclosed- not follow Policy on release and maybe on external harness
Federal officials this week inspected the “doors-off” sightseeing helicopter company responsible for a deadly 2018 chopper crash — and found potential safety violations involving passenger harnesses, sources said.
[the flight was a FlyNYON- branded Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter operated by Liberty Helicopters, Inc.]
FAA inspectors on Tuesday visited FlyNYON’s hangar in Kearny, New Jersey, and found potential non-compliance of safety standards relating to the restraints used to keep passengers inside the helicopters as they cruise around Manhattan, the sources said.
FlyNYON has been the subject of an NTSB investigation since one of their choppers crashed into the East River in 2018, killing five people.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Schumer, who has harshly criticized the company since the fatal crash, said FlyNYON “remains a safety concern.”
FlyNYON continued on Friday to advertise “doors -off” sightseeing flights — using photos of passengers with their feet dangling out the helicopter doors.
The F.A.A. confirmed that it conducted “routine oversight” of Liberty’s operations on Oct. 31 and “observed supplemental harnesses outside a helicopter.” But a spokesman for the agency said that its inspectors would not have rendered judgment on the harnesses because supplemental restraints are not subject to inspection. Liberty Helicopters declined to comment.
NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center
12/10/2019 9:30 AM
The National Transportation Safety Board announced Monday its intention to hold a public board meeting Dec. 10, 2019, 9:30 a.m., to determine the probable cause of the fatal crash.
A FlyNYON- branded Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter operated by Liberty Helicopters, Inc., crashed in the East River, New York, March 11, 2018, killing all five passengers and injuring the pilot. Previously released information about the NTSB’s investigation of the accident is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xVy28.
The public docket, which contains information considered in the development of probable cause for the accident, is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xVpgy.
The NTSB issued an urgent safety recommendation just eight days after the crash, calling on the FAA to prohibit commercial flights that use passenger harness systems that do not allow for rapid release with minimal difficulty. That urgent safety recommendation was closed-acceptable action taken, July 26, 201
Aviation Safety has recently emphasized the importance of responding immediately and with a comprehensive, analytically driven solutions. Both the NTSB and the FAA have established the appropriate criteria for the open door flights.
One would hope that FlyNYON would have immediately equipped all their open door flights with compliant harnesses, trained their crews on the proper usage of this critical aviation safety equipment and more than adequately briefed their passengers on donning/releasing the device. Regulatory considerations aside, insurance risk reduction experts likely reinforced the requirement to meet these best practices.
If a reoccurrence of a harness problem on an open door flight happens between now and December 12, the consequences would likely result in the end of this company and other potentially horrible outcomes.
This story has suspect sources.
First, a formal FAA later that inspectors “have rendered not judgment on the harnesses because supplemental restraints are not subject to inspection.” Thus, the disclosure did not accurately reflect agency policy.
It is strict FAA policy that the personnel involved in an investigation may not disclose their judgment as to the alleged violations. The policy’s intent is to assure that all of the internal evaluations and legal analyses are completed. Thus, this policy is intended to be an interdiction on any disclosure “until program office personnel and, where applicable, enforcement counsel, make a final decision on whether to take no action or an action consistent with the guidance in chapter 5.”
If FlyNYON is operating unsafely, then the investigative team should be preparing an emergency action against the operator. This unauthorized disclosure may have the practical impact of a revocation or suspension, because potential customers will read the as-of-yet unproven allegations and will avoid FlyNYON.
In the absence of a regulatory action commensurate to the alleged violations, this disclosure is both inappropriate and is suspicious.
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