FAA Temporarily Bans Some 'Doors-Off' Helicopter Flights
In October 2017, TPG managing editor Alberto Riva flew above New York City on a doors-off photo flight. I experienced a similar flight of my own two months later, in December, as my chartered bird overflew the 747 graveyard at Victorville. As of this Friday, these types of flights may no longer be allowed.
While I haven't been able to locate a formal published regulation outlining this new restriction, the FAA did publish a statement on Twitter, suggesting that pending an update to the restraints used during many "doors-off" flights, the agency is requiring that pilots suspend such operations:
This new order follows Sunday's crash of N350LH, a Eurocopter AS350 that's actually carried both Alberto and myself, along with thousands other passengers, during the year prior to this week's deadly accident. Following an engine failure, the pilot was able to escape after ditching in the East River — the five passengers participating in a photo shoot died after being unable to escape, specifically due to the restraints they were wearing as required during "doors-off" operations.
The FAA's tweet states that the agency "will conduct a top to bottom review of its rules governing these flights to examine any potential misapplication that could create safety gaps for passengers," after which these types of flights may be permitted to resume.