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Despite Being Under Fed Investigation By NTSB & An Ongoing FAA Rulemaking, FlyNYON Has Launched An Aggressive Social Media Campaign To Try & Land Customers

Company Is Marketing The Same Doors-Off Flights Currently Under Fed Investigation For 40% Off; Senator Says Until We Know Exactly What Went Wrong, Those Flights Should Be Suspended & Consumers Should Be Alerted

Schumer: Chopper Company Should Not Be Flying Under The Radar When Safety Of Doors-Off Flights Are Still In Question & Consumers Might Not Be Aware

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed today that the same chopper company (FlyNYON) involved in the March 2018 East River crash that killed 5 people in a dangerous doors-off flight is now shockingly offering a special “October sale” of 40% off the exact same doors-off flights currently under federal investigation. Schumer said that these doors-off flights are still under federal investigation with the NTSB and the FAA. He also sounded the alarm for consumers who may not even realize what is going on or the questions that are still unanswered. Schumer also detailed an aggressive social media campaign being deployed by FlyNYON to woo potential customers to climb into one of their choppers and urged regulators to look into whether or not it is being fully transparent with potential fliers.

“For FlyNYON to offer a forty percent discount on a doors-off flight when we still don’t know one-hundred percent of what went wrong during the East River chopper crash should be alarming to the feds and fliers alike,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Moreover, the aggressive marketing campaign that uses social media and geo-tracking to hype up the flights and court consumers doesn’t seem to alert potential customers to the current investigation or the risks involved. In fact, the only thing potential fliers are encouraged to do is ‘show off those new shoes the right way,’ That’s why I am sounding the alarm for potential fliers and the feds while urging FlyNYON to do the common sense thing here and suspend these flights until we know exactly—the full picture—of what went wrong when a doors-off flight resulted in the deaths of five innocent people. I’ve asked for this before, and to their credit and the FAA’s, the company did the right thing and suspended those flights, but it would appear that months later an aggressive marketing campaign to sell the same doors-off flights could fly under the radar, and that should not happen.”

Schumer revealed specifics about the FlyNYON social media campaign. Schumer detailed Facebook and Instagram FlyNYON sponsored content that details a deep 40% off discount for doors-off flights during the month of October. FlyNYON allows potential fliers to type in the promo code “OKTOBERFEST” to claim the discount and immediately book the doors-off flight. The marketing campaign uses geo-tracking on Instagram and Facebook to try and persuade people to book a doors-off flight. Schumer cautioned that not only does this advertising tactic reach New Yorkers who may not know the history of the March 2018 crash, but that it also courts tourists who would be at an additional disadvantage to know that these flights are currently under federal investigation. Schumer said the marketing campaign appears to fail at warning consumers that these flights are still under federal investigation by the NTSB and involved in a rulemaking with the FAA. Schumer said the company should suspend these flights until the feds and the public have all the answers on what went wrong in March 2018. Schumer also pushed the FAA to do all it can to speed up the rulemaking process related to doors-off flights and apply as much pressure as possible on the chopper company to alert consumers who may be booking the doors-off flights in question.

To prove how easy it is to book a doors-off flight without any safety disclosure regarding the current investigation, Schumer revealed his office’s successful attempt to secure a flight at the exact same time as his event sounding the alarm on this situation.

The FlyNYON “doors off” helicopter tour that crashed offered passengers a “custom photo experience” in which they could hang out the side of the aircraft to take social media worthy photos. However, Schumer explained that the thrill-seeking aerial tour required passengers be strapped in using heavy duty harnesses that may have ultimately prevented the passengers from escaping when the helicopter crashed. Schumer also cautioned that there may be other contributing factors to this crash that are still unknown and pending federal investigation.

On March 11th, five passengers in a FlyNYON helicopter were killed when the helicopter crashed into the East River. Following the crash, Schumer urged the FAA to take action, resulting in the now-underway rulemaking. At the time, Schumer said a deep dive into the FAA policies and practices for reviewing the crashworthiness of helicopters was clearly needed. Schumer also said a review of the testing, and approval process that was conducted before authorizing this specific safety and restraint system was needed. Schumer pointed out that the aforementioned is still underway, including a formal NTSB review.

According to reports, sightseeing and tourist flights are listed as the third leading category of fatal helicopter accidents. In 2016, the overall helicopter accident rate was 3.19 per 100,000 flight hours. In 2016, there were 106 helicopter accidents, including 17 that were fatal. Since August 2009, the NTSB has investigated 19 helicopter accidents in New York, not including the most recent East River crash. 

Between 1991 and 1994 a number of safety regulations were updated for helicopter operations, and yet since that time a number of reports and findings have indicated that compliance with those regulations remains limited. Either as a result of grandfathered approvals, or safety waivers, Schumer said it appears that many helicopters operating in the United States today do not meet modern safety standards.

The NTSB has launched a still-ongoing investigation into the East River helicopter crash, and so, many unanswered questions remain. Schumer explained that the now-on-sale “doors-off” flight includes a heavy-duty harness system that allows passengers the opportunity to lean out the helicopter to capture aerial photographs. Schumer said, according to reports, harnesses similar to these may have prevented the March 2018 crash victims from escaping the wreckage. FlyNYON has said they utilize an “8 Point Safety Harness System” and encourages passengers to take a “shoe selfie” onboard. The company says these flights offer a “doors-off custom photo experience.” Passengers onboard these helicopters are strapped in with a metal loop attaching the back of the harness to the helicopter. The passengers also reportedly have a seatbelt on. While there were reportedly knives onboard the March 2018 flight, past passengers have said there is inadequate training about how they are to be used. Before boarding, passengers watch a short video explaining that the knives can be used to cut through the harness if trapped. According to reports, the video does not explain how to cut through the nylon ties and does not explain where the knives are located onboard. Schumer also said it is unclear if FlyNYON is informing customers as to whether or not the company is currently under federal investigation.