NTSB Takes Issue with New Helo Flotation Rules

 - March 8, 2007, 9:43 AM

It took the FAA more than three years to finalize its rules affecting the commercial air-tour industry and only 14 days after their publication for the NTSB to issue a recommendation asking the agency to change the rules and require floats on all helicopters used in commercial air-tour operations over water, “regardless of the amount of time over water.” The final rule, published on February 13, states that helicopters need not be equipped with floats if that portion over water “is during takeoff or landing only.” Nor are floats required if each occupant is wearing a life preserver while the helicopter is within power-off gliding distance of the shoreline. The NTSB believes that floats might have prevented three passengers from drowning in a September 2003 accident in Hawaii involving a sightseeing helicopter that rolled and began to sink immediately after settling on the water several hundred feet beyond the shore.