If open-door helicopter tours are unsafe for human tourists then they’re also unsafe for dogs, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
Schumer teamed up with a fellow Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, to decry a helicopter tour operator’s promotion of doors-off chopper flights that endanger passengers — and the canine passengers they bring along on their thrill rides.
Schumer and Menendez called out FlyNYON, the operator involved in a deadly March 11, 2018, open-door chopper crash in the East River that killed five people.
“Strapping in dogs for dangerous doors-off flights over New York is just totally repugnant,” Schumer said.
Menendez condemned the daredevil dog flights as “downright cruel for the animals” and “a potential death trap in the sky.”
“The FAA has an obligation to make sure tourist chopper flights are either operated safely or grounded,” the Garden State senator said.
The lawmakers, joined by animal rights advocates and a cuddly white Maltese poodle named Winston, accused FlyNYON of exploiting a loophole in aviation rules that allow open-door aerial photography to offer the open-doors helicopter ride.
Schumer, who said FlyNYON is the subject of two federal investigations, charged the chopper company conducts flights under FAA’s less stringent regulations as an “aerial work operation. aerial photography or survey."
Asked about the senators’ criticism, FlyNYON tried to change the subject.
“The facts are simple. Today, we are focused on raising money to help these animals and their human partners that are on the frontline of supporting recovery efforts like those of hurricane Dorian, not trying to score political points," the firm said in a statement.
Also, the company said, it is “fully compliant with all FAA operating and safety standards,” and supports “smart actions” to improve helicopter safety. It invited the senators to its offices on Monday "to discuss this very important matter.”