SEATTLE — Helicopter accidents are rare in Seattle, but helicopter landing pads are not.
From the 73rd floor of the Columbia Tower, it is easy to see the helipad on the roof of Safeco Plaza across from the downtown library. Seattle's first modern-era skyscraper, it was built in the 1960's.
“In those days, it was the executives were wanting to fly in or it's faster to get in from the airport or something like that,” said Seattle Planning Director Diane Sugimura.
Her office says there are at least 12 helipads in the city of Seattle. And as the city grew more crowded, the rules were tightened in 1993.
New helipads are still allowed downtown and in industrial areas and even neighborhood commercial zones, but only for the purposes of public safety, emergency medical care and news gathering.
But in light of today’s accident, we asked mayor Murray whether most of the helipads should be shutdown.
“I think that's a question we can only answer, and I can only answer once we have the information we need to see if these can operate safely,” the Mayor responded.
Mayor Murray has ordered a review of helipad safety and says city planners will take in to account the findings of federal crash investigators.