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
“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.