It's The Scary Season...

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Senator Wants Controls On Sightseers

New York Sen. Charles Schumer is no stranger to pushing the panic button (he's tried, among other things, to restrict helicopter flights in the Big Apple) and now he's written FAA Administrator Marion Blakey asking that tighter restrictions be placed on small sight-seeing operations like the one involved in the May 21 crash. Four people died very publicly in that crash of a Cessna 172 on a busy Coney Island beach. The aircraft was operating under rules that allow small air tour operators to avoid the expense and paperwork required of larger companies as long as they take off and land from the same airport and don't fly more than 25 miles from home. The FAA doesn't appear to have the appetite to take up the cause. The FAA may still be smarting from the public outcry that resulted from an attempt to implement restrictions like those suggested by Schumer last year. "Our nation remains without comprehensive safety regulations protecting passengers on small commercial air tours," Schumer wrote. However, FAA spokesman Les Dorr Jr. told Newsday that the next set of air tour rules will not affect small operators, "We got a lot of comments and we felt we had to do something differently with the small operators," he said. The aircraft involved in the May 21 accident was owned by R.J. Ventures, a flight school and sight-seeing operation in Paramus, N.J.