Tourist copter crash reignites debate
Local politicians call for ban on tourist choppers
by Ian Wenik
Reporter Correspondent
Jul 07, 2013 | 6480 views | 2 2 comments | 987 987 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo credit: Glynnis Jones, Shutterstock
Photo credit: Glynnis Jones, Shutterstock

As the shock and surreality of the sight of a tourist helicopter bobbing in the Hudson River has worn off, Weehawken politicians have joined the growing chorus of individuals calling for an outright ban on New York’s growing tourist helicopter industry.

For many, the June 30 water landing of a tourist helicopter carrying four Swedish tourists following a post-takeoff loss of power was the last straw.

In the wake of the incident—which evoked images of other crashes that had less-happy endings—Congressman Albio Sires conducted a meeting on July 2 with numerous prominent Hudson County officials to assess the standards and safety of the tourist helicopter industry.

The result? A call for the end of the tourist helicopter flights over the Hudson, which have become a near-ubiquitous feature of the New York cityscape.

“Tourist helicopters have become completely out of control,” said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “They are too frequent, too low, and too loud, and we need a mitigation plan along with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security that puts the quality of life of our communities before New York's tourism interests.”

“The recent crash that took place this past Sunday on June 30, 2013, is another example of the need for stricter regulations banning helicopters along residential areas in Hudson County,” added Sires. “We must do more to prevent these types of terrible accidents and increase efforts to drastically improve safety before another tragedy takes place similar to the crash in 2009.”
“Tourist helicopters have become completely out of control.”-- Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer
In that incident, a helicopter collided with a small plane over the Hudson, killing nine people. The helicopter flights have become particularly irksome for Weehawken officials and residents, who say they contend daily with what Mayor Richard Turner calls an “enormous volume” of choppers, ranging from news copters hovering over the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels for 20-30 minutes at a stretch, to the low-flying tourist excursion copters that have become such a hotbutton issue.

“It’s very, very—in our opinion—dangerous,” Turner said.

With the national-level support of Sires, Hudson County officials hope to enter a dialogue with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about increased regulation of the tourist helicopter industry.

“I want to thank Congressman Sires for taking the lead on the important issues regarding the safety and quality of life for the residents of Weehawken pertaining to continued low-flying helicopters along the shorelines of Weehawken and our neighboring towns,” said Weehawken First Ward Councilwoman Carmela Silvestri Ehret last week. “I look forward to working with him and my colleagues on this very important issue.”

And though it’s unclear for now what—if any —action the FAA will take, at least until after the National Transportation Safety Board wraps up its investigation of the most recent incident, Turner and his fellow county officials are in agreement on at least one thing about the helicopters.

“It’s a growing problem,” he said.

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July 08, 2013
Seems like the local politicians are doing what they're being paid to do i.e. spouting non-nonsensical hyperbole for their rich friends that own houses along the Hudson river.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Congressman Albio Sires, Mayor Richard Turner, the issue is tens of thousands of tourists (the commoners) who want to experience the beautiful views of NYC versus a few rich home owners along the Hudson river that want their "serenity" all to themselves.

I guess the real issue is that the tens of thousands of regular joe's (tourists going up on the helicopter tours) don't pay the local politicians off while the rich homeowners do. (sorry, contribute to the politician's election campaigns)

Great to see the American political system at work. Using the excuse of a perfect safe landing where no-one even got wet to cry wolf that flying helicopters is so "very very -in our opinion - dangerous".

This is as crazy as it gets. Perhaps the next time there is a simple car accident where everyone walks away, we should just ban all cars.

Then everyone can enjoy the peace and quiet that comes from riding in a palanquin! What? Not everyone can afford a palanquin???? Well, that's their problem.

At least Palanquin's are safe and quiet for all the people that have houses along the Hudson river and have the spare cash to give to local politicians.

July 07, 2013
“It’s very, very—in our opinion—dangerous,” Turner said.

Turner is nothing more than Debbie Downer. People travel from everywhere to see the greatest city on earth and they want a good view. What better view can you get than from a helicopter? The city is full of noise and that is one of the things that make city life what it is, noise. Motorcycles, cars, and trucks they all add to the din.

If you want peace and quiet then stop complaining, get off you butts and move out into the country. But you say “I don’t want to live in the country, it’s too boring. Yes, indeed it is, so then shut up and suck it up.

And by the way, what kind of grammar is this, “It’s very, very—in our opinion—dangerous,” Turner said. Did someone hit Turner on the head and scramble his brain. “In our opinion” is the way you state or end a statement of opinion. The man is dizzy. Maybe it is from watching all those nice helicopters going round and round.