After yesterday’s helicopter crash atop a 7th Avenue building that left one dead, calls will grow for restricting or outright banning commercial helicopter flights in New York City.
Besides the safety risk posed by the more than 30,000 flights per year, the commercial choppers leave a trail of noise and pollution over the parts of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens they routinely fly over.
However, don’t expect Gov. Andrew Cuomo to join the chorus. On Monday, Cuomo insisted to the New York Times that helicopters are “an important part of the transportation system in New York.”
Excuse me, what world is Cuomo living in? Ordinary New Yorkers don’t ride around in helicopters. Commercial choppers cater to well-heeled tourists taking a quick buzz around Manhattan and whisk the super-wealthy to the Hamptons or JFK Airport, sparing them the indignity of being stuck in traffic or on the failing subways that Cuomo presides over. This kind of service is important only to the kind of people who fill Cuomo’s campaign coffers every four years.
Only last week, the press hailed the July 9 launch of Uber Copter, a service that would ferry the company’s high-end clientele from Lower Manhattan to JFK for $200-$225 per person. Will that now be delayed? Hopefully, federal regulators who have the final say in how airspace is used will intervene.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has been unstinting in his support for Uber from helping ensure they can skirt labor laws by declaring their drivers independent contractors to signing into law in 2018 a congestion pricing measure favored by Uber and opposed by yellow and green cabs. The decline of subway service under Cuomo has also proven to be a bonanza for Uber. So even with yesterday’s tragedy still fresh in the news, it’s little surprise that the Governor wants to go full throttle on putting more commercial helicopters in New York City’s skies.
Photo: Emergency personnel on the scene of a deadly helicopter crash in Midtown on Monday. Credit: @NYCGov/twitter.