Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Agusta A109E Power, N200BK: Fatal accident occurred June 10, 2019 in New York City, New York

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; New York, New York

Rotorcraft crashed under unknown circumstances.

N200BK Inc

Date: 10-JUN-19
Time: 18:05:00Z
Regis#: N200BK
Aircraft Model: 109
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Timothy McCormack

Agusta A109E Power, N200BK

The Wall Street Journal
By Paul Berger
Updated June 11, 2019 8:06 p.m. ET

The pilot who died when his helicopter crash-landed on a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper Monday wasn’t certified to fly using instruments that could have helped him navigate in poor weather, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Federal investigators on Tuesday were trying to piece together the moments that led the pilot, Timothy McCormack, to crash atop the AXA Equitable Center, a 752-foot-tall office tower on Seventh Avenue between West 51st and West 52nd streets.

Doug Brazy, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the investigation would focus on Mr. McCormack, the Agusta A109E Power helicopter he was flying and the weather at the time of the crash. New York City on Monday afternoon was shrouded in clouds, mist and rain.

“One of the most interesting concerns we have is gathering as much information about the weather,” Mr. Brazy said at a news conference near the office tower on Tuesday afternoon. “Should the helicopter have been flying? I don’t know yet.”

Mr. McCormack, who was 58, was an experienced pilot first licensed to fly private airplanes in 1990 and private helicopters in 1995, Federal Aviation Administration records show. However, according to those same records, he wasn’t qualified to fly with instruments. Instead, as many pilots are, he was certified to navigate using visual landmarks.

Mr. McCormack had flown for real-estate firm American Continental Properties for the past five years.

On Monday, he made the 15-minute flight from Westchester County Airport, near White Plains, New York, to the East 34th Street Heliport in Manhattan, landing at 11:45 a.m., Mr. Brazy said. Mr. McCormack dropped off a passenger, who told investigators nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary at the time.

Mr. Brazy said that Mr. McCormack spent the following couple of hours reviewing the weather. Conditions were so poor that no flights departed from the West 30th Street Heliport after 10:30 a.m., a spokesman for that heliport said. Mr. McCormack, though, took off from East 34th Street at 1:30 p.m., headed south along the East River bound for an airport in Linden, New Jersey.

Within minutes, Mr. McCormack appears to have changed direction. He ended up over Manhattan, crashing atop the office tower around 1:40 p.m. The resulting fire consumed most of the wreckage, Mr. Brazy said, but investigators are sifting through the helicopter’s instrumentation and systems for clues about what went wrong. They are also following up on reports that Mr. McCormack may have tried to make radio calls shortly before the crash.

William Waldock, a professor of safety science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Florida, said the Agusta A109E is a sophisticated helicopter that is easier to operate with two pilots, especially in bad weather. A pilot who isn’t certified to fly with instruments can easily become disoriented in clouds, he said.

“You really literally don’t know which way is up,” Mr. Waldock said. “If you don’t get on instruments immediately, very quickly your primary senses are going to overload as the aircraft starts doing different things than what you think it is.”

City officials said it was a miracle that no one else was injured by the crash in the middle of the day in the heart of Manhattan. The accident renewed calls from some public officials to limit flights over the city, following several helicopters that have crashed into or made emergency landings on the East River and the Hudson River.

New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney said at a press conference on Monday that nonessential flights should be banned in the city. “It is just too densely populated. It is too dangerous and there is absolutely no safe place to land,” she said.

—Alexa St. John and Keiko Morris contributed to this article.

Original article can be found here ➤


Anonymous said...

How in the world does someone get hired to fly this level of equipment single pilot without a instrument ticket?

Anonymous said...

CNN reported just a Hard landing

Stackthepilot said...

Hard landing on a building without a heliport. Guessing CNN is mistaken.

Anonymous said...

Helicopter IFR ops are completely different than fixed wing. Most helicopters require 2 pilots for IFR flights unless the aircraft is Single Pilot IFR (SPIFR) certified. I believe this one was not SPIFR. Quite a few pro helicopter pilots finish a career flying only VFR regardless of the aircraft configuration.

Thor3 said...

good to know, thanks for the info!

T Ibach said...

Crash landing on a building without a heliport

Anonymous said...

There is video on YT showing the helicopter departing a pad near Hudson River and looks like he's immediately stuggling to find a way to poke through the low clouds and fog. He definitely knew he was taking off into IMC yet he continued anyway. You can say that non-IFR rated chopper pilots have a different set of criteria for weather but this guy was in over his head almost from the start. Add in the fact that he knew there were tall building obscured by clouds and a couple of TFRs nearby and the accident chain was complete. Was he trying to follow orders from his corporate boss? He didn't have to go like this. Condolences to his family.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this story and something seems off. I would love to get someone else opinion. My questions are 1. Who did he drop off before the crash (thought I read it was the owner of the helicopter)? 2. Who was he on his way to pick up? (article stated he was 'studying the weather for hours' before he took off for New Jersey. 3. Is it normal to change course dramatically and pick a building without a helipad to land on? Just curious...

alwaysastudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alwaysastudent said...

The pilot was dropping off an executive from the company earlier in the day. They departed Westchester airport and landed at the East Side heliport when weather was clear. The exec has an apartment on the East side of Manhattan. Helicopter flights were temporarily grounded due to the storm passing thru NYC with ceilings reported as 600 feet and visibility below three miles. The pilot wasn't certified to fly in ifr conditions where instruments are relied on without any outside visual references. He chose to takeoff in imc conditions, possibly ignoring weather reports. His flight would normally be over the East River, south around Manhattan then turn north over the Hudson river to return to Linden airport NJ. Flights over Manhattan are forbidden and all pilots are aware of this restriction as well as the narrow low altitude corridor on the East and Hudson rivers. When he crashed, he was probably disoriented and may explain why he was flying over buildings. There's a well known phrase of scud running where pilots not certified to fly in low clouds/low visibility attempt to fly at low altitudes. Some get away with this repeatedly until it catches up with them. Even high time pilots do this sometimes.