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Audit Initiated of FAA’s Oversight of Open-Door Helicopter Operations

Requested By
Requested by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand
Project ID
File Attachment
Following the March 11, 2018, fatal Liberty Helicopters crash in New York, New York, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand requested that the Department of Transportation Inspector General—in consultation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)—review Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) involvement with helicopter air tours.
The Senators asked us to determine if tourists are permitted to fly with the helicopter doors off on commercial flights, and how the safety restraint system used during the tragic Liberty Helicopters crash received its original approval from FAA. Specifically, we were asked to address how FAA reviewed, tested, and approved the supplemental restraint system, and to determine FAA’s role in ensuring that helicopters in use today meet modern safety standards.
To address Senator Schumer’s and Gillibrand’s request, the objectives of this audit are to assess FAA’s processes for (1) review and approval of supplemental restraints for open-door helicopter operations and (2) oversight of company use of supplemental restraints.