TSA Screens NYC Heliport Fliers

Business travelers in Manhattan who want to take a short helicopter flight from Wall St. to John F. Kennedy International Airport can now clear airport-like security procedures before they board the chopper.

The Transportation Security Administration last week established a permanent security presence at the Manhattan Heliport, where U.S. Helicopter last week began offering eight-minute flights to JFK for about the same price as an airport limousine. Passengers who opt for this mode of transportation will undergo the same screening procedures as they would at an airport. The same restrictions in force banning certain carry-on items will apply at the heliport, TSA said. Heliport screening enable travelers to transfer to their flight at JFK without a second round of scrutiny.

"These dedicated resources will ensure that passengers and baggage entering Manhattan's airspace on commercial helicopter flights to New York-area airports have satisfied TSA's stringent screening requirements," said Douglas Hofsass, TSA federal security director at LaGuardia Airport. Hofsass' responsibilities now include oversight of security operations at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.

In addition to examining bags and making passengers walk through metal detectors, the heliport will create a sterile holding area for passengers waiting to board one of 24 flights on the half hour between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Future flights are planned to New York LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports.

This is the first heliport where TSA has established a presence. Concerns were raised about the vulnerability of New York's heliport at the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings.

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