The History of New York Airways’ Helicopter Operations

If an individual about to board an airplane in Omaha have been requested the place he was flying to and he responded, “Omaha,” he could obtain just a few perplexed seems to be and even an audible, “But aren’t you there now?” Yet, if you stay in metropolises that help a number of airports, comparable to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Tokyo, it’s attainable to fly from one to the opposite.

While distances between them is probably not that extreme, floor journey, notably throughout rush hours, can require extra time, and there may be nothing like touchdown at an airport and continuing to the following gate for a connecting flight and even having your checked baggage interlined to it.

New York qualifies as having one of these inter-airport networks and its namesake New York Airways made a valiant, two-decade try to supply scheduled, rotary-wing service inside it.

As the third to take action, it adopted Los Angles Airways and Helicopter Air Services of Chicago and was awarded an working certificates by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in December of 1951 to fly between inside the ttri-airport Idlewild, La Guardia, and Newark catchment space.

Reflecting early-aviation growth, wherein open-cockpit biplanes carried mail over designated routes and accommodated just a few passengers to enhance income when house allowed, it transitioned to the passenger kind of payload on July 8, 1952 with seven-seat Sikorsky S-55s , finally increasing past its inter-airport community to New Brunswick, Princeton, and, Trenton in New Jersey. Manhattan-penetrating service to the Hudson River hugging West thirtieth Street Heliport started 4 years later, on December 5.

Noise and vibration have been counteracted with comfort, velocity, journey occasions that have been measured in minutes, and unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline. Approaches to the encircled “H” landing level on the water jutting pier positioned the plane’s dimension into perspective when vit was just about swallowed by Manhattan’s monoliths throughout its alight.

Earlier that 12 months, on April 21, New York Airways inaugurated the higher-capacity, extra superior, tandem twin-rotor Vertol 44B into service.

“It was the primary transport helicopter to have its cabin organized like that of a standard airliner, accommodating 15 passengers, primarily two-abreast on the starboard facet of the cabin with the aisle and baggage house on the left,” in keeping with REG Davies in “Airlines of the United States since 1914” (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998, p. 475).

Yet, passenger acceptance and enlargement shortly necessitated even bigger, extra superior tools, prompting New York Airways’ preliminary, $4,350,000 order for ten Vertol V-107-IIs on January 15, 1960. It was later halved to 5.

The kind which finally turned its flagship and digital image of it, not solely traces it origins to a design, however to the very, producer that created it. Vertol, a Philadelphia-based, rotary-wing firm, was concurrently designing two tandem-rotor helicopters-namely, the Chinook for the US Army and the CH-46A Sea Knight for the US Navy and Marines.

The latter, the outcome of a design competitors for a Marine Corps medium assault transport, first flew in August of 1962 and was first delivered two years later, carrying troops and cargo between South Chine Sea positioned ships and Vietnam. Of its three prototypes, one was modified to civil V-107-II customary and it first flew on October 25, 1960, at a time when Boeing had acquired the corporate, ensuing within the Boeing-Vertol identify.

Powered by a 1,250-shp General Electric T58-8 turboshaft engine, it featured a 50-foot rotor diameter. With an 84-foot total size, it had an 18,400-pound gross weight.

First flying in full manufacturing guise the next 12 months, on May 19, it was FAA type-certified in January of 1962 and scheduled New York Airway service on July 1. The remaining ten constructed have been bought to Kawasaki of Japan to function license- produced sample plane, however that plan by no means proceeded into manufacturing.

Images of the V-107-II taking off from the Pan Am rooftop heliport symbolized skyscraper-stretching Manhattan island and fashioned an integral half of town’s tradition. They additionally represented a side of city mobility: subways beneath its streets and helicopters above its buildings depicted technologically profitable triumphs over traffic-saturated streets and considerably decreased journey occasions.

“Twenty-five passengers rode on this twin-turbine design at a cruising velocity of 140 mph,” in keeping with Len Morgan in “Airliners of the World” (Arco Publishing Company, 1966, p. 90). “New York Airways took you from Kennedy International to the foot of Wall Street in 16 minutes or to the highest of the Pan Am Building in seven. Either journey required a busy hour and 1 / 4 by automotive throughout rush hours.”

New York Airways was in a position to function at half-hour intervals and its annual passenger totals mirrored the recognition of its offerings-8,758 in its first 12 months of operation and greater than 250,000 in its tenth.

While rotary-wing operations supplied quite a few benefits, together with a number of day by day frequencies; low-capacity, easy-to-fill cabins; fast aerial hops; unparalleled views; and the flexibility to alight on any postage-stamp sized patch, whether or not paved or not, in addition they had their disadvantages. They had excessive working prices, produced important noise, featured engine and mechanical complexity, operated inside extremely populated city areas the place security was of paramount concern, required subsides for profitability, and, at the least initially, have been dependent upon climate and visible meteorological circumstances.

Progressively decreased subsidies necessitated service discontinuations, together with these to the West thirtieth Street Heliport and Bridgeport, Connecticut. On April 11, 1965, they have been completely eradicated, affecting not solely New York Airways, however the different related rotary-wing issues in Chicago and Los Angeles.

A monetary lifeline was forged by Pan American World Airways, which bought two extra V-107-IIs for $850,000 every after which leased them to New York Airways for operation to the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows.

Sikorsky, by way of its Untied Aircraft Corporation dad or mum, did the identical with three S-61s. Powered by the identical General Electric T58-8 engine, however that includes a special configuration, a shorter fuselage, and a bigger, 62-foot rotor diameter, it was the V-107-II’s competitor, nevertheless it was in any other case related with a 25- passenger capability and an 18,700-pound gross weight. It was inaugurated into service on December 21, 1965.

Bypassing all floor site visitors and lowering journey time to a mere seven minutes, Boeing-Vertol V-107-II and Sikorsky S-61 service between the Pan Am rooftop heliport and JFK enabled passengers to check-in for his or her fixed-wing flights within the Pan Am Building 45 minutes earlier than they have been scheduled to depart. Seventeen day by day roundtrips supplied final comfort. Fares have been $7.00 one-way and $10.00 roundtrip.

Because the service fulfilled the CAB’s “public comfort and necessity” clause, each Pan Am and TWA have been in a position to make stockholding investments in New York Airways, the previous to the tune of 24.4 % and the latter at 15.6 %.

The Sikorsky S-61s sported TWA’s emblem on their aft fuselage sides.

Aside from the airline’s monetary fatalities, there have been additionally human ones, creating darkish clouds of doubt on rotary-wing expertise for scheduled business operations.

On May 18, 1977, for example, a New York Airways S-61L keeled over throughout boarding on high of the Pan Am heliport, taking the lives of 5 with it whereas it did, together with that of an individual strolling on Madison Avenue beneath the place the unleashed rotor blade hit him.

Two years later, in April of 1979, three have been killed when a rotor blade snapped off of one other S-61 at Newark International Airport.

Metal fatigue and failure had triggered the correct touchdown gear to break down within the first incident and the tail rotor to interrupt off within the second.

Forced to stop operations, New York Airways filed for Chapter 11 chapter safety; And, whereas varied methods have been devised to resurrect it, none proved fruitful.

New York Airways’ 18-year, four-type, scheduled mail and passenger, inter-airport and non-state rotary-wing operations have been handy and fashionable and outlined a brand new market and function for the design. But these then in existence have been loud, advanced, fuel-thirsty, and in the end flawed, and never essentially of enough development for secure, worthwhile, high-frequency, day by day operations, leaving later carriers, comparable to New York Helicopter, to fill the hole within the New York airport space and lots of others all through the world. While expertise had intermittently improved and was one measure of the kind’s success, its working prices and profitability constituted its others.

“After twelve years of passenger operations, due to this fact, the Helicopter carriers (together with New York Airways, Chicago Helicopter Airways, Los Angeles Airways, and San Francisco and Oakland Airlines) had been given a superb likelihood to show the effectivity of rotor-driven plane, however had did not make their case,” Davies concludes (op. cit. p. 479).

Article Sources:

Davies, REG “Airlines of the United States Since 1914.” Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.

Morgan, Len. “Airliners of the World.” New York: Arco Publishing Company, Inc., 1966.

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