Friday, May 17, 2019

Bell 206L-4 LongRanger IV, operated by Zip Aviation repositioning flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, N26BB: Accident occurred May 15, 2019 in New York, New York

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: New York, NY
Accident Number: ERA19LA171
Date & Time: 05/15/2019, 1426 EDT
Registration: N26BB
Aircraft: Bell 206
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning 

On May 15, 2019, at 1426 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206 L4 helicopter, N26BB, operated by Zip Aviation, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to the Hudson River while maneuvering for landing at the West 30th Street Heliport (JRA), New York, New York. The commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the repositioning flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot provided both written and verbal statements, and his version of events was consistent throughout.

The pilot stated he had just refueled on the fuel deck on the south side of JRA and was told to reposition the helicopter to pad #4 on the northern side of the trailer that served as the office and passenger terminal for the heliport. He added that throughout previous flights that day the helicopter performed as designed, and that he had landed "two other times at JRA that day."

The pilot said that he attempted one approach to pad #4 but felt the onset of LTE (loss of tail rotor effectiveness) and aborted the approach and went around. He climbed the helicopter over the water, turned the helicopter back toward an easterly heading to the helipad and again felt the onset of LTE. The nose of the helicopter began a yaw to the right, and application of full left pedal failed to arrest the yaw. The helicopter then entered an uncontrolled spin around its mast to the right. "I continued to attempt to maneuver the helicopter into the wind and gain some forward airspeed. This attempt did not effectively restore the tail rotor authority."

According to the pilot, the loss of altitude and the helicopter's proximity to the water made a successful recovery of the spin unlikely, and he elected to deploy the floats and perform a controlled landing to the water to avoid any conflict with people or property on the shore.

The pilot reported that he did not experience any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the helicopter. He further added that once he decided to perform a water landing, all systems, including the floats and vest worked as designed.

When asked about the winds that day, the pilot said they were "pretty consistent" all day. There was no automated weather at JRA, but the person manning the radio in the trailer provided a wind advisory when landing instructions were given. When listening to automated weather reports from Newark and Teterboro, the pilot recalled hearing winds from the west, and later recalled observations reporting winds at 11 knots gusting to 22 knots, and 10 knots gusting to 18 knots. He added that traffic at Newark was landing on Runway 29, and that when traffic landed on Runway 29 "the winds had to be pretty significant."

Video recordings of the accident flight displayed a sequence consistent with the pilot's account. The helicopter climbed to about 100-150 ft in a continuous right turn before the nose pitched up, and forward flight ceased as the helicopter aligned approximately with the landing spot. The nose of the helicopter yawed slowly and continuously to the right, until the helicopter entered a descent as it rotated around the main rotor mast. Just prior to descending from view and water contact, the floats deployed.

The pilot held commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate was issued on February 21, 2019. He estimated that he had 900 total hours of flight experience, 42 hours of which was in single-engine airplanes. The pilot stated he that he had accrued about 100 hours in the accident helicopter make and model.

According to FAA airworthiness and maintenance records, the helicopter was manufactured in 2017 and was maintained utilizing a manufacturer's continuous airworthiness program. Its most recent inspection was completed May 8, 2019 at 557 total aircraft hours.

Photographs and video of the wreckage revealed the fuselage was largely intact. The helicopter came to rest upright on its flotation pontoons. The transmission, main rotor mast, and main rotor system all remained attached as a single unit but was separated from the transmission mounts and rested against the left side of the fuselage. The engine also appeared dislodged from its mounts. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Bell
Registration: N26BB
Model/Series: 206 L4
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Zip Aviation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLGA, 20 ft msl
Observation Time: 1851 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 6000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / 22 knots, 320°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting:  29.8 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: New York, NY (KJRA)
Destination: New York, NY (KJRA)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  40.754444, -74.006944 (est)

A helicopter crashed into the Hudson River soon after taking off from a heliport on Manhattan’s West Side, the New York Police Department said.

The pilot, who was the only person on board the aircraft, suffered minor injuries, according to the NYPD. A dockworker attempting to get out of the way of the crash slipped and injured his wrist, police said.

The 34-year-old pilot told officers he had just taken off after refueling Wednesday at the West 30th Street Heliport when “all of a sudden he felt the helicopter go down,” NYPD Assistant Chief Stephen Hughes said.

The pilot landed on the water and was rescued by a passing boat, Mr. Hughes said. The pilot suffered a minor injury to his left hand, he added.

The rotorcraft, identified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Bell 206L-4 LongRanger IV, appeared to stall, hovering for a few moments at a height of about 100 to 120 feet before crashing into the water shortly before 2:30 p.m., witnesses said.

Brenda Gaydos, who said she was in the city from Plano, Texas, to visit her children, saw the crash from a waterfront path.

“It just hovered and went down. We didn’t know what was going on,” said Ms. Gaydos, a retiree. “Immediately, we saw helicopters and boats responding to the crash. They were here pretty quick.”

The helicopter was operated by Zip Aviation, a charter and tour operator that serves other companies, such as Blade, police said. A spokesman for Blade, which offers shuttles between Manhattan and New York City’s airports, said the Zip helicopter wasn’t working for Blade at the time of the crash.

Workers who answered the phone Wednesday at Zip said they had no information about the helicopter. Zip didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said Wednesday evening that investigators won’t travel to the scene.

“The recovery of a Bell helicopter that crashed in New York’s Hudson River Wednesday revealed the helicopter was substantially damaged, as such, NTSB will investigate the event as an accident.”

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. The pilot “all of a sudden he felt the helicopter go down”. He's very perceptive.

  2. Probably in shock and didn't remember much