A helicopter regularly contracted by Blade, an on-demand short-distance flight service, crashed into the Hudson River in New York City this afternoon. The aircraft’s pilot was the only person onboard and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, the New York Fire Department reports.
“Earlier today, a helicopter made a safe emergency landing on floats in the Hudson River near the heliport,” a Blade representative confirmed to The Verge. “The pilot was not injured and immediately exited the aircraft.” The aircraft landed in the Hudson River near West 30th Street after it missed the landing pad, according to local police. Blade also noted that the helicopter was not servicing a Blade flight, and was being repositioned by the contractor, Zip Aviation, to the West Side Heliport for fueling when the accident occurred.
Neither Blade nor Zip Aviation specified what forced the emergency landing. An eyewitness video shows the helicopter losing control before emergency rafts inflated as the aircraft descends toward the river.
Blade, billed as an “Uber for helicopters,” launched in 2014 and offered New York City passengers a shuttle between the east and west sides of Manhattan. It has since expanded service to other destinations like Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons, alongside festivals like Coachella. Recently, the company has tried to broaden its service by significantly lowering its prices; a flight that used to cost $3,000 between midtown Manhattan and JFK International Airport in 2014 is now as low as $195.
Just last week, in an interview with Bloomberg, Blade founder Rob Wiesenthal told the publication that the company was able to lower its prices “without compromising safety.” The goal was to get more people on board its aircraft to continue making prices even more affordable, with the intent of making airport charters as low as $70 per seat in the next three to five years.
Update May 15th, 2019 at 5:15 PM ET:This article has been updated to include a statement from Blade and an eyewitness video of the crash landing.