A helicopter operator who was involved in a crash in the East River of New York where five people died, is now trying to lure passengers back on his open-door flights with huge discounts – and by allowing them to bring their DOGS take.
American senators Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez denounced FlyNYON for admitting pets on controversial flights.
And they ran a gap in federal law that allowed the company to fly open doors despite open restrictions in New York, claiming it was an aerial photography flight rather than a flight for & # 39; thrill seekers & # 39 ;.
FlyNYON falls under the less strict Part 91 regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration if & # 39; aerial work activities – aerial photography or survey & # 39 ;. Schumer said in a statement that federal regulations help FlyNYON to circumvent New York rules that restrict certain air travel.
Schumer and Menendez released a letter that they sent to the FAA and asked the agency to cancel the aerial photography exception used by FlyNYON, based in Kearny, New Jersey.
A social media message from FlyNYON (above) shows how dogs sit on the lap of a passenger during a flight
A video tweeted by FlyNYON shows a dog tied while looking out of an open helicopter door while the plane was flying
The same video shows how the animal slumbers while the helicopter flies past the Statue of Liberty
The video shows the dog continuing his nap with Brooklyn in the background. The song, & # 39; You make my dreams come true & # 39 ;, sung by the 80-star pop stars Hall & Oates, can be heard in the video
A man with a FlyNYON shirt is seated upstairs with the animal aboard the open-door flight
& # 39; We want them to take action now on this loophole that ultimately allows an amateur, not a professional photographer – not when someone does it for a television station or news station – to hang on the side of a helicopter, in an open seating capacity and create a risk to their lives & # 39 ;, Menendez said at a press conference Sunday.
& # 39; To add cruelty to having your animal, which is certainly not open to take flights in open doors and to be hung on the side so that you can take pictures of it, & # 39 ; he added. & # 39; That's incredibly cruel to the animal. & # 39;
An FAA source tells DailyMail.com that the agency has received the letter and will respond directly to lawmakers.
At one point, Schumer retweeted a FlyNYON promotional video showing that a dog was taken on a helicopter flight over New York. But the video now appears to have been removed from the company's YouTube page.
& # 39; The cruelty of having your animal, which is certainly not open to flights in open doors and being hung aside so that you can take photos of it. That's incredibly cruel to the animal & # 39 ;, says Senator Robert Menendez (above) during a press conference Sunday
Senator Chuck Schumer, pictured above, retweeted a FlyNYON promotional video showing that a dog was taken on a helicopter flight over New York City. But the video now appears to have been removed from the company's YouTube page
FlyNYON has released a statement (above) in response to the lawmakers involved and invited them to talk with company officials about & # 39; helicopter safety & # 39;
A FlyNYON spokesperson played down how often passengers flew with their animals.
& # 39; There were a handful of flights where the passengers brought their (dogs) and tied them with protective head gear, & # 39; SMS & # 39; in Loren Riegelhaupt to DailyMail.com. & # 39; Not more than half a dozen. & # 39;
Riegelhaupt said that FlyNYON had offered its passengers a promotional discount to raise money for PilotsNPaws, a non-profit rescue for pet air. The FlyNYON website claims that the company has now raised more than $ 13,000 in fundraising in the second year.
& # 39; The facts are simple. Today, we are focused on raising money to help these animals and their human partners who are at the forefront of supporting recovery efforts such as those of Hurricane Dorian, not trying to score political points, & said FlyNYON in a released statement.
PilotsNPaws did not respond immediately when DailyMail.com contacted.
FlyNYON also invited lawmakers to meet with company officials to discuss the safety of helicopters.
The latest criticism of FlyNYON comes one year after five people drowned when one of their planes – operated by Liberty Helicopters – crashed into the East River in New York.
The only survivor of the March 11, 2018 crash was pilot Richard Vance, who was the only person in the helicopter wearing a manufacturer-installed security system, a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The five passengers, all drowned when the helicopter rolled into the water after the engine failed, all wore improvised armor provided by operator FlyNYON.
It later turned out that pilots had warned higher ups about safety concerns, in particular the restrictions to protect passengers on the aircraft.
& # 39; We are in the process of failure & # 39 ;, a FlyNYON pilot wrote in an email, according to a New York Times report, hoping to emphasize the need for more suitable safety clothing.
Social media messages from FlyNYON show how passers-by can dangle their feet out of an open door on the aircraft. This image shows a person hanging his feet above Central Park while the company mentioned discounts on his flights
The open-door helicopter that crashed on 11 March 2018 and five people who were killed on board is pictured above while the salvers removed him from the river. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash
Four days before the crash, the company certificate states that the same pilot asked for new tools, so that passengers could free themselves in the event of an emergency.
Internal documents, including emails, show that company executives have wiped out the problems and claimed that their unique company was safe.
& # 39; Let me be clear, this is not a safety issue with the harnesses & # 39 ;, FlyNYON CEO Patrick Day stated in an email with a January pilot.
Day rejected the idea & # 39; that someone at FlyNYON did not pay attention to issues raised by pilots at Liberty Helicopter and that we did not respond to safety concerns & # 39; in a statement to the Times.
The pilots for the company are paid via Liberty Helicopter, which then controls the FlyNYON helicopter.
Pilots complained about the harnesses that also contained the five passengers. They claimed they were too big for smaller passengers. But execs e-mailed that zip bands should be used when trying for tighter belts.
All five passengers were used to use tethers that kept them in the vehicle. They were given small cutters to hatch in an emergency.
The National Transportation and Safety Board recommended that the FAA prohibit commercial flights with open doors with harness systems that must be cut or forced to escape.
The NTSB also continues to investigate the crash.
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