FAA formalizes doors-off flight prohibitions

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published an emergency order regarding doors-off flight operations on March 22, formalizing its prior communications on such operations.

Photographer Eric Adams, who was on another FlyNYON photo flight on the evening of March 11, captured this shot of the accident helicopter shortly before it went down in the East River. Eric Adams Photo
The order was put into effect by the FAA following the March 11, 2018 helicopter accident on New York’s East River, which claimed the lives of five passengers. Eric Adams Photo
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Upon information derived from an investigation into a March 11, 2018 helicopter accident on the East River in New York, the order has been issued to all U.S. operators and pilots, as well as all U.S.-registered aircraft, which participate in fights for compensation or hire with aircraft doors open or removed.

The FAA’s order prohibits the use of supplemental passenger restraint systems that cannot be released quickly in an emergency during doors-off flight operations.

Regarding the recent helicopter accident on New York’s East River, the FAA believes the supplemental passenger restraint systems worn by the passengers during that flight, while intended as a safety measure, may have prevented the passengers’ quick evacuation from the aircraft.

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The order also prohibits passenger-carrying doors-off flight operations – unless the passengers on such flights are properly secured using FAA-approved restraints at all times during flight, the FAA said.

Applications for a determination as to whether a supplemental passenger restraint system can be quickly released by a passenger with minimal difficulty may be submitted to the FAA Aircraft Certification Service, Policy and Innovation Division, Rotorcraft Standards Branch.

The FAA has determined strict consequences for any person who fails to comply with the order.

The full document of the FAA’s emergency order can be viewed here.

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