Lawyer says she contacted AG about helicopter company after crash

Lawyer says she contacted AG about helicopter company after crash

An attorney for whistle-blowing helicopter pilots urged the state attorney general to probe the sightseeing company involved in an East River crash that left five people dead.

The New York Times reported that the pilots raised safety issues about FlyNYON before the March 11 tragedy, with Washington lawyer Debra Katz last week asking AG Eric Schneiderman to look into their prescient concerns.

The AG’s office has launched a civil consumer protection investigation into the company, according to a source familiar with the probe.

Schneiderman is also demanding that FlyNYON stop advertising open-door flights and issue refunds for such flights booked before the tragedy.

The source also said safety issues were part of what the AG was looking into.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

(Seth Wenig/AP)

“I contacted (Schneiderman’s) office and provided it with evidence on behalf of my clients,” Katz wrote in an email Saturday. “I requested that it investigate FlyNYON’s operations.”

The FAA banned “doors off” helicopter flights within a week of the deaths.

The Times reported Saturday that FlyNYON scoffed at the pilots’ worries before the crash that killed five people in the East River.

The pilots expressed particular worries over the sightseeing copters’ safety harnesses, with one of their email warnings coming just four days before the deadly plunge, the Times reported.

The March 12 front page of the Daily News shows the crash.

The March 12 front page of the Daily News shows the crash.

( New York Daily News )

Only the copter pilot escaped when the craft went into the water, and he was not wearing a harness.

The five victims were wearing the type of safety gear questioned by the pilots: yellow harnesses strapped into the copter with tethers, along with cutters to escape the tethers in case of emergency, the Times reported.

The victims were aboard a charter flight reserved to take photos of the city at night. The copter went down about 11 minutes after takeoff.

FlyNYON chief executive Patrick K. Day provided the Times with a statement denying the charge that “anyone at FlyNYON did not heed issues raised by pilots ... and that we failed to respond to safety concerns.”

The pilots are represented by Katz, a well-known attorney who specializes in whistleblower cases.

FlyNYON used the tethered harnesses to allow passengers a chance to lean from the edge of the copter cabin or simply dangle their feet into the sky.

On the night of the deaths, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the safety harnesses possibly hindered the passengers’ efforts to escape when the copter sank in 50 feet of water.

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Publish date : 2018-04-08 00:11:16
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