Ever since the nerve-shattering morning of September 11, the skies over Manhattan have been strangely quiet. At first it was the same sort of silence that settled over the rest of the U.S.–the product of a total operations ban that was the national airspace lockdown.
Fledgling helicopter commuter airline America Rising has pushed back to 2006 the launch of its New York to Washington, D.C. rotorcraft shuttle service, blaming a lack of suitably de-ice-equipped helicopters and continued delay in gaining approval for the operation from the Transportation Security Administration.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is taking over security checks of passengers and baggage at New York City heliports, following warnings that Al-Qaeda has considered using tourist helicopters as weapons.
While U.S. helicopter tourism operators have been under continuing pressure from regulators and environmental groups over the past few years, their colleagues in less restrictive legislative environments have continued to make a decent living. Charter companies in South Africa have been doing particularly well at offering “flightseeing” packages, even though the gloss of a weak U.S. dollar has long since faded.
U.S. Helicopter, the only scheduled helicopter airline operating in the U.S., recently expanded its New York City service to include departures from the East 34th Street heliport.
US Helicopter, the operator due to launch a scheduled service linking Manhattan heliports with New York City airports (see yesterday’s edition of HAI Convention News), is set to triple its fleet. Yesterday CEO Jerry Murphy signed an order for four new Sikorsky S-76C++s, to bolster its launch fleet of two used -B model helicopters. The new helicopters are due to enter service starting next year.
A helicopter service connecting Manhattan with New York City airports is due to start in about two weeks. On March 13 US Helicopter will introduce an eight-minute S-76B flight between the Wall Street Heliport and JFK Airport. The company will add services linking La Guardia and Newark Liberty International to Wall Street and the
East 34th Street Heliport later this year.
US Helicopter’s (USH) scheduled service between Manhattan’s Wall Street heliport and JFK Airport carried 335 passengers during its first week of operation. CEO Jerry Murphy told AIN that he was pleased with the level of publicity the service received and the smoothness of the operation. “It ran like a Swiss watch.”
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