Helicopter crash NYC: Pilot dead after helicopter crash lands on top of building



The pilot of an eight-seat, twin-engine helicopter was killed when the chopper crashed on the roof of a Manhattan building and burst into flames, sending smoke billowing across the dreary, rain-filled sky Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The pilot appeared to attempt an emergency landing about 11 minutes after taking off on the roof of a 51-story building at 787 Seventh Avenue just before 2 p.m., authorities said. The crash resulted in a fire, which was extinguished by 2:20 p.m.
The pilot was identified as Tim McCormack, of Clinton Corners, NY, by Paul Dudley, Linden Airport manager. Linden was the home base of the helicopter.

The pilot was believed to be the only one aboard and there were no other injuries, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference Monday.

"This could have been a much worse incident," de Blasio said.
The helicopter was identified as an Agusta A109E helicopter, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. It was linked to a real estate company founded by Italian-born investor Daniele Bodini, according to FAA records.

The helicopter model has been in production for decades and is used in both military and civilian applications. The helicopter that crashed was built in 2000 and was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney engines, according to records. A database search of FAA incidents and accidents returned no results for this aircraft.
The craft took off from the 34th Street heliport, James O'Neill, the New York police commissioner, said in a press conference. Atlantic Aviation, which manages the heliport, declined to comment when reached by phone.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Matt Robinson, an air safety expert with the company Robson Forensic, said there are “tons of rules and regulations” that helicopter pilots have to adhere to, depending on factors such as the kind of aircraft, the purpose of the flight and pilot certifications.

All of those will be looked at during the investigation, he said.
“There’s quite a volume of data and evidence that the [National Transportation Safety Board] needs to collect,” Robinson said. “The investigator wants to look at if there were any problems with the machine, look at the wreckage … then you need to divert attention to the pilot and the air crew.”

Weather conditions could also have played a role, he said.
At the time of the crash, visibility was just over a mile and there were rain and fog in and around Manhattan, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature was in the mid-60s, with more than 90 percent humidity.

“Loss of control is possible,” Robinson said, if the pilot experienced issues like disorientation or visibility, “but at that point you need to weigh the meteorological conditions.”
William Waldock, a professor of safety and science at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said FAA regulations state that helicopters have to stay 1,000 feet above the highest point or obstruction, but that could be different in parts of New York.

“Some of the big issues they might not be able to see is windage around the building,” Waldock said. “What happens with tall skyscrapers around — you get all kinds of unusual current activity … and if there’s dust and smoke in the air, it’s hard to see.”

He added that in cities there are few ways to see the wind, because of a lack of trees or wind socks to indicate direction.
Waldock also said the pilot did the right thing by trying to land on the rooftop.

“The biggest single thing is if you do have some sort of in-flight emergency there’s not many places to put it down, and you don’t want to put it down on the street,” he said.

In a press conference near the building, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the crash would likely stir up memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

"If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD, right, from 9/11," he said. "And I remember that morning all too well."
Cuomo said there is no sign that the crash was an act of terrorism.
"At this point, there is no indication that that is the case," Cuomo said. "The only indication was that a helicopter had to do an emergency or a hard landing or crashed onto the rooftop of the building, causing a fire."

Staff at the management office of Commonwealth Partners, which owns the building, declined to comment when reached by phone. Brian Tolbert, the downtown heliport manager, also declined to comment.
After the crash, those in the building were evacuated into the pouring rain, joining throngs of curious onlookers on the street. One 28-year-old man who works in the building was in the basement at the time of the crash, but didn't feel the impact.
“I heard walkie-talkies going off telling everybody to evacuate," the unidentified man said. "I left all my things down there. I can’t even go home. I left my house keys in there."

As people evacuated the building, they were "panicky," he said.
Liam Dharambatt, 23, was in a building elevator when the helicopter crashed. He said he didn't hear or feel the crash, either, learning of it from building security calling for the evacuation over the public address system.

"Everybody was actually calm," Dharambatt said.

The building itself, according to the Tenant Information Manual, is equipped with "a fire-resistant structure and many systems designed to protect life and property." Among those, according to the manual, are devices that "shut down air handling equipment to prevent the spread of smoke and fire."

Many in the building were not immediately aware of what happened, even as the evacuation order blared over speakers.

"No one knew at the time what happened," said one man, who added that he has worked in the building for 10 years.

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