Helicopter Crash in East River, NYC

I am not a frequent helicopter passenger. I question whether there is a process in place to instruct passengers on exiting the craft in an emergency, similar to fixed wing aircraft passengers.

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Of course. I always brief my passengers regardless of aircraft (helo or fixed wing).
I make sure they can open the exists and release the harnesses before I even start the engine.
I also tell them to wait for my signal and/or the blades to stop turning before getting out.
I emphasise that they must stay away from the main and tail rotors tend to be magnets to people not paying attention.

Wait for more details so we can work at what actually happened.
I can think of a number of issues, however, I prefer to wait for an NTSB report. They have a briefing this afternoon but it will probably take a while to fully understand what the issue/s was/were.

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Ask any Navy helicopter pilot what it’s like to extricate one’s self from a helicopter inverted in the water.

They are required to practice this in a simulator every four years.

Water egress is definitely no joke. However, one can easily see that it’s not feasible to require such training for every passenger who will be in an aircraft near water. For long open-water flights, sure, but for short-hop tourist flights down the Hudson? A training requirement like this would pretty much put an end to those flights.

In the end, for flights like this one, I think about the best you can hope for is the same model the airlines use - provide passengers with necessary safety instructions, and let the chips fall where they may.

The NTSB report will tell the tale, though, for now all we can do is speculate.

Not suggesting that civilian passengers go through Navy style egress training.

Just saying that being inverted in any vehicle while submerged can be extremely disorienting.

Once again the “safety harness” kills. I don’t think there is an instance where the harness actually saved any life in a helicopter crash.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you were suggesting that. I was more trying to respond to OP, in that while passengers are surely instructed in emergency egress, such instruction is likely to be inadequate for a water landing like this, and that there’s not going to be any easy way around this.

The latest news is that some of the floats didn’t fully inflate, causing the aircraft to overturn.
There are also complaints about the harnesses being difficult to undo.