Sunday, July 29, 2007

Should Toronto news helicopters be discouraged?

In Phoenix, Arizona two helicopters operated on behalf of KNXV and KTVK following a police pursuit collided killing all four crew.

In Toronto, Global, Rogers and CTV all operate news aircraft. The Toronto Police wanted a helicopter for years under Fantino's regime, which may have cut down the number of fatalities occurring during these same pursuits and assisted control of large events, but while moaners, er... "concerned citizens" refused to countenance it citing noise and cost, the media organisations have expanded their fleets without much notice being taken.

At the moment, the TPS seem to be able to get by for their own needs by borrowing York Region's helicopter, but to my mind it's time they had a hotline to Toronto Air Traffic Control with the power to close airspace to visual traffic such as private aircraft rather than having tellychoppers hanging overhead a crime scene causing a racket while officers are trying to deal with incidents for nuisance value alone, given that hopefully we will not see a repeat of the Phoenix incident any time soon. Given that helicopters are notoriously fuel hungry the environment might be better served by a shared resource rather than each network operating its own, if it's necessary to have such a thing at all.

This arbitration report concerning a 1998 incident involving two aircraft operating to provide information to Rogers is quite interesting, not least because the names of both pilots are still familiar ones on Rogers traffic reports to this day.
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