NYC crash renews fears about tourist helicopters

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Buzzing through some of the world's busiest airspace, New York's sightseeing helicopters give tourists a bird's-eye view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

A 12-minute tour can go for $200 a person. But a collision involving a chopper and a private plane has renewed doubts about whether the flights are worth the cost to safety.

Still, even the crash that killed nine people didn't stop the brisk business in aerial tours. Just an hour after their own helicopter went down on Saturday, Liberty Helicopters employees were still handing out pamphlets advertising rides to tourists. One sightseer wasn't deterred by the accident above the Hudson River.

"We'd still really like to go," said David Bernard, from Paris. "I think I'm not afraid because it happens very rarely."

The increasingly popular sightseeing tours attract hundreds of thousands of people each year, and business has boomed over the past decade.

A city councilwoman is pressing to ban tourist helicopter trips over Manhattan. Others are floating ideas such as requiring choppers to carry collision-avoidance equipment and assigning them different altitudes from planes.

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