New York City Mayor Eric Adams laughed off a question about FBI seizures at an unrelated press conference on Monday, a week after federal agents quietly seized phones and an iPad from the Democratic mayor as part of the bureau’s ongoing corruption probe related to politics in the nation’s largest and most prominent city.
Adams held a press conference at 6 East River Piers to make what City Hall billed as a major transportation announcement.
As the mayor wrapped up the portion of the event where he took questions from the media, one reporter asked Adams, “Has anyone else on your team had their phone seized by the FBI?”
A member of Adams’ team appeared to scold the reporter off camera about the off-topic question, and the mayor soon laughed and interjected, “We’re talking about helicopters.”
The mayor then quickly pivoted to the “demonstration” portion of the event, and another member of the media is heard calling, “That sounds like a technology question, you know?”
Adams, whose relationship with Democrat President Biden has soured in recent months as the mayor demanded more action from the federal government in deterring the flow of more than a hundred thousand migrants to New York City from the U.S.-Mexico border, has reportedly been under investigation since at least the spring for possibly pressuring FDNY officials in the summer of 2021 to clear the opening of a sky-rise building to house the Turkish consulate in Manhattan, the New York Times first reported Sunday.
As federal law enforcement and prosecutors have yet to publicly disclose the nature of the FBI’s probe, Adams’ administration responded to the Times report by condemning any FBI employee who possibly “improperly leaked details about this investigation as such conduct could prejudice the public and undermines the integrity of our law enforcement process.”
Adams has insisted he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Last month, FBI agents searched the Brooklyn home of Adams’ top campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, prompting the mayor to cancel a planned trip to meet with White House officials in Washington and instead return to New York.
FBI agents seized Adams’ phones and iPad while he left a public event a week ago, his attorney revealed on Friday, stressing the mayor is cooperating with federal authorities.
Monday’s press conference unveiled Adams’ “new vision for a first-of-its-kind hub for sustainable transportation and deliveries at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport (DMH).”
Under the plan, DMH will aim to become the first heliport in the world with the infrastructure to support electric flight by “incorporating last-mile and maritime freight distribution and delivering major quality-of-life improvements for New Yorkers by supporting quieter helicopter alternatives,” according to the mayor’s office.
Through a new request for proposal, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is seeking an operator to upgrade the city-owned heliport to provide the supporting infrastructure for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as well as last-mile and maritime freight delivery.
The request also calls for plans for onsite workforce development training in aviation, maritime and other relevant sectors.
Adams suggested the “new hub for sustainable transportation” would create better infrastructure for joystick-operated electric helicopters to make deliveries and someday carry people.
“Within our lifetime, many of you are going to own your own personal electric helicopter. I mean this is just unbelievable when you think about it. It’s no different than a joystick on a video game,” Adams told reporters. “This must be a city of yes where we lean into the possibilities of not only what we do on the ground, but what we do in our skies. To be able to number one, move faster to and from our places, the airports and other locations, but to do it in a clean, green way and allow our young people to earn some clean, green dollars in the process as they learn how to operate these devices, repair these devices and design these devices. This is only the first level.”
In what Adams’ office billed as the first-of-its-kind event in the U.S., two eVTOL companies – Joby and Volocopter – conducted piloted demonstration flights of eVTOL aircraft from the urban heliport Monday at the DMH. BETA Technologies, another company in the field, demonstrated the multimodal interoperable electric charger it developed.
The heliport will deploy infrastructure to serve a similar purpose in order to support electric aircraft.
Federal Aviation Administration certification is anticipated as early as 2025 with commercial flights to start shortly after, Adams’ office said.