Are Helicopter Tours Safe? CGTN America Interviews Michael Slack on the Safety of Open-Door Helicopter Tours

One week after a Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) AS350 crashed into the East River in New York killing five passengers, CGTN America spoke with Partner Michael Slack about the series of accidents that’s putting the spotlight on sightseeing helicopter safety.

In particular, the safety of open-door helicopter tours has been the subject of scrutiny following the Liberty Helicopters Crash in New York’s East River on Sunday, March 11 and the announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration to temporarily ban open-door helicopter tours. Slack questions if passengers, who are allowed to fly without doors as long as they are harnessed, are being properly trained.

“If these completely unforgiving harnesses – that are almost impossible to get out of – are required in order to have open-cockpit flights, then safety almost demands that you don’t have open-cockpit flights,” said Slack. He also sheds light on the fact that tour operators are stretching themselves thin, attempting to maximize profits by working their pilots and equipment for long periods of time.

“Long hours mean fatigue for pilots, overutilization for the helicopters, and the unusual weather circumstances, that many times the pilots are not experienced with when they become pilots in a new area,” he said.

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