Fatal helicopter crash in New York City renews call for stricter flight restrictions

By TransportationFOXBusiness

Helicopter crash on NYC skyscraper roof kills pilot

FOX Business’ Jackie DeAngelis reports from the scene in the midtown Manhattan section of New York City as a helicopter crashes into high-rise building.

A fatal helicopter crash on top of a New York skyscraper Monday renewed a congresswoman's call for stricter flight restrictions over Manhattan -- and it could have implications on private companies that operate chopper services around the city.

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, who represents the area in midtown Manhattan where the crash landing happened, called the incident a "nightmare" for New Yorkers.

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“Today, New York City experienced yet another deadly helicopter crash, this time, with our nightmare of having a helicopter crash into a building. It appears that the pilot was killed and no one else was seriously injured – but this pilot’s death is one too many," she said in a statement.

"We cannot rely on good fortune to protect people on the ground. It is past time for the FAA to ban unnecessary helicopters from the skies over our densely-packed urban city. The risks to New Yorkers are just too high.”

A privately owned helicopter crashed on the roof of the AXA Equitable Center, located at 787 Seventh Avenue, at around 1:43 p.m. ET, authorities said in a news conference. The skyscraper is north of Times Square and south of Central Park.

It appeared the pilot -- the only person aboard the aircraft at the time of the crash -- was the lone fatality. The weather at the time of the crash was heavy fog with visibility of less than a mile.

A massive emergency response on Monday after a helicopter crashed on a building in New York City. (Greg Norman/Fox News)

The crash comes days after ride-sharing company Uber announced plans to launch its new Uber Copter service that would start on July 9 in New York City.

The service would let Uber's top-tier Platinum and Diamond members order a helicopter ride via its app that would take them between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Lower Manhattan.

The flight is about eight minutes, and including ground transportation, the overall commute would be 30 minutes. A typical car ride from JFK Airport to Lower Manhattan could take one to two hours, depending on traffic. Monday's crash renewed debate over the value of Uber Copter -- and similar recreational air services -- compared to the traffic it would add to an already congested airspace.

Streets were closed to traffic Monday after a helicopter crashed on a building in New York City. (Greg Norman/Fox News)

In a follow-up news conference from her office in Washington, D.C., Maloney said, "I truly, deeply believe that non-essential flight should be banned from New York City."

Along with JFK Airport, New York City is home to LaGuardia Airport. Also nearby is Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

In a news conference following the crash, New York City authorities said there is a temporary flight restriction over the area where the helicopter crashed.

"To be clear, to go into that area, a helicopter would need the approval of LaGuardia tower, and we need to find out if that happened," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We do not know at this point."

President Trump's namesake Trump Tower is located four blocks away from the crash site.

source told Fox News the helicopter took off from the East 34th Street Heliport and suffered mechanical failure when it tried to make an emergency landing on building's roof.

New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said the helicopter crashed on the roof about 11 minutes after take off and believed to have been heading back to its homeport in Linden, New Jersey.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo briefly spoke to reporters after the crash.

"If you're a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11, and I remember that morning all too well," Cuomo said. "So, as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes where every New Yorker's mind goes."

Helicopters were banned from landing on rooftops in New York after a helicopter crashed on the top of the Pan Am Building (now called the MetLife Building) and killed five people in 1977 -- less than a mile from Monday's crash landing. In that incident, four people were killed on the rooftop and the fifth person -- a pedestrian -- was killed when the rotor blade fell to street level.

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Still, the city has seen a string of helicopter accidents since. The most recent was just last month, when a chopper crash landed in the Hudson River near a busy Manhattan heliport. The pilot escaped mostly unscathed.

Five people died when a sightseeing helicopter crashed into the East River last year. Three people died in another crash into the same river in 2011. Back in 2009, a sightseeing helicopter collided with a small plane and killed nine people not far from the scene of Monday's mishap.

In 2006, New York Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle's single-engine plane slammed into the 20th floor of a building on Manhattan's Upper East Side, killing Lidle and his flight instructor. It was not clear which one was piloting the plane.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.