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Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representative Brad Sherman (both D-Calif.), Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) recently introduced the Helicopter Safety Act, a bill to require terrain awareness and warning systems and crash-resistant flight data and voice recorders on all helicopters that carry six or more passengers.
Since 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued and re-issued recommendations urging this safety equipment be mandatory on helicopters. Yet, the FAA only requires certain helicopters, such as air ambulances, to carry it.
“Despite NTSB recommendations 15 years ago that the FAA make terrain awareness equipment and other safety technology mandatory on all helicopters, some of this lifesaving equipment is only required to be installed in air ambulances. That’s simply unacceptable,” Feinstein said. “We saw the deadly results of this inaction in January when a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others crashed. If that helicopter had terrain awareness equipment, the tragedy may have been averted. This common sense bill will save lives, and Congress should act to pass it immediately.”
“In 2004, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended to the FAA that all helicopters be equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system. Unfortunately, the FAA refused to follow this recommendation to require the safety system” said Sherman. “The Helicopter Safety Act of 2020 will finally direct the FAA to require these safety features for passenger helicopters in order to avoid tragedies like the one that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others.”
“Despite tragic helicopter crashes across the country and here in New York — from FlyNYON to the crash last year on a Manhattan tower — the installation of chopper warning systems and crash-resistant flight data and voice recorders has remained an elusive, basic safety standard the federal government has failed to mandate. The bill we are introducing today would heed safety recommendations the NTSB has all but begged for and ones New Yorkers know are badly needed,” said Schumer.
“The death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others was devastating news for Los Angeles and the entire country. It is critical that helicopters be required to have terrain awareness equipment and warning systems in place. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to prevent accidents like this from occurring again,” said Harris.
Senator Feinstein introduced the bill in the Senate and Representative Sherman introduced a companion in the House. Full text of the bill is available here.