No more dogs on those door-free helicopters flying over NYC

No more dogs on those door-free helicopters flying over NYC

By:  Jonathan D. Salant

WASHINGTON — Those door-free helicopter flights over New York City will now be dog-free.

FlyNYON, criticized by U.S. senators from New Jersey and New York for allowing passengers to fly with their dogs over New York City in choppers without doors, said it would no longer allow pets aboard its aircraft.

A similar door-free helicopter crashed in March 2018 after taking off from Kearny, killing five passengers On Sunday, U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Chuck Schumer of New York called on the Federal Aviation Administration to issue new safety rules for such flights.

“While we strongly disagree with the characterization and allegations directed our way, we have decided effective immediately, we will no longer be flying dogs or animals in any of our open-door flights,” chief executive Pat Day said in a statement. "FlyNYON takes great pride in the safety of our operation and promise to continue providing the safest helicopter experience for our customers.”

Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said the announcement didn’t go far enough.

“These dangerous doors-off flights are meant for professional photographers — not social media enthusiasts and their innocent dogs," said Schumer. "Now that FlyNYON says they’ll do right by the animals, they should consider the same for people and axe the dangerous doors-off flights altogether before more lives are lost.”

Such flights, which allow passengers to take photos while flying in helicopters without doors to hinder their view, do not have to meet certain safety standards. But the senators said that’s because the flights were designed for professional photographers with specialized training, not tourists with smartphones.

“While FlyNYON has agreed to halt its cruelty to animals by no longer strapping in pets and dangling them high above the ground in a doors-off helicopter, it still doesn’t change the fact that they continue to put people at risk by exploiting a loophole in federal regulation," said Menendez, also a Democrat. "The FAA must act to make these doors-off flights safer or ground them entirely.”