Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Accident Investigation and Prevention; Washington, District of Columbia 
Leonardo Helicopters; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pratt & Whitney of Canada; Longueuil, Quebec

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: New York, NY
Accident Number: ERA19FA191
Date & Time: 06/10/2019, 1340 EDT
Registration: N200BK
Aircraft: Agusta A109
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Executive/Corporate 

On June 10, 2019, about 1340 eastern daylight time, an Agusta A109E helicopter, N200BK, was destroyed when it impacted the roof of a building in New York, New York. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Day instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the corporate flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The flight departed from the East 34th street heliport (6N5), New York, New York, about 1330 and was destined for Linden Airport (LDJ), Linden, New Jersey.

On the morning of the accident, the pilot and a pilot-rated passenger departed the Bel-Aire heliport (NY46), Amenia, New York, about 1030. They stopped briefly at Hudson Valley Regional Airport (POU), Poughkeepsie, New York, for fuel, then flew to 6N5 and arrived about 1130. According to the pilot-rated passenger, the flight was uneventful.

According to personnel at Atlantic Aviation, the fixed-base-operator at 6N5, the pilot-rated passenger was at the controls as the helicopter landed. He departed the heliport by car, while the accident pilot remained at 6N5. The accident pilot waited in the lounge for about 2 hours. While there, he was continuously checking weather conditions using his tablet computer. Prior to departing, he mentioned to the staff that he saw a "twenty-minute window to make it out."

According to preliminary tracking data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the helicopter departed 6N5 and initially few south over the East River, before changing course northward. About 5-7 minutes after departure, the pilot contacted Atlantic Aviation and made a request to return to the heliport. He was advised to land on pad No. 4. The pilot then radioed that he "did not know where he was." The helicopter flew erratically over the East River, changed course and altitude several times before making a 270° turn, which approached 6N5 from the west. About 500 ft west of 6N5, at an altitude of 600-700 ft mean sea level (msl), the helicopter reversed course, and flew erratically over Manhattan, before impacting a roof of the 54-story building at 787 7th Avenue. The last recorded position of the helicopter was about 0.1 nautical mile southeast of the building at an altitude of about 1,570 ft msl. The overall height of the building above the street was about 790 ft msl, with the roof section where the helicopter came to rest (below the exterior walls and catwalks surrounding the perimeter of the roof), at an altitude of about 765 ft msl.

A witness recorded video of a portion of the flight as the helicopter was flying in and out of clouds. The helicopter descended rapidly from the clouds in a nose down pitch attitude, appeared to initially transition to a level pitch attitude before climbing into the overcast cloud ceiling and out of view.

Examination of the wreckage on the rooftop revealed that all major components of the helicopter were present at the accident site and were confined to an area approximately 100 ft long and 20 ft wide, oriented on a heading of about 300° magnetic. Small pieces of debris were recovered from the 50th floor level and street level. The helicopter was severely fragmented and partially consumed by a post-impact fire. All four main rotor blades were fragmented. Remnants of two main rotor blades remained attached to the rotor hub, the other two blades were separated from the hub. All exhibited leading edge damage. The main rotor gearbox was impact damaged, partially fragmented, and could not be turned by hand. The tail rotor blades, hub, and gearbox remained largely intact. One tail rotor blade exhibited a leading-edge gouge, the other blade tip was fracture separated and exhibited thermal damage. The tail rotor driveshaft was fractured in several locations; an 8 ft section remained attached to the tail rotor gearbox. The tail rotor shaft and blades rotated freely when turned by hand. While most of the flight control components were identified, flight control continuity could not be determined due to impact damage and extreme fragmentation of the airframe. All three landing gear actuators were in the down position.

The left engine was broken into two sections at the reduction gearbox. The compressor impeller rotated freely by hand, several blades exhibited leading edge damage and several blade tips were bent in the direction opposite of rotation. The power turbine shaft was fractured, consistent with overload and exhibited twisting features and rotational scoring. The fuel management module was damaged, separated from the engine control gearbox, and its control was oriented in the "flight" position.

The right engine was mostly intact and exhibited thermal damage. The compressor impeller would not rotate; its blades exhibited leading edge damage and were not bent. Debris was found ingested downstream of the compressor discharge area, consistent with engine operation. The driveshaft between the right engine and the main gearbox was fracture separated in a twisted pattern. The fuel management module was damaged, partially separated from the engine control gearbox, and its control was oriented in the "flight" position.

The throttle quadrant was found loose and separated from its mount. The control cable ends were not found. Although both levers were found in the "MAX" position, their position at the time of impact could not be confirmed.

The twin engine, 7-seat helicopter was manufactured in 2000. It was equipped with two 549-horsepower, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206C engines. The most recent documented inspection was completed on May 21, 2019, which was a 50 hour/30-day inspection. At that time the helicopter had accrued a total of 3,939 flight hours. Both engines had accrued about 570 hours since overhaul.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a helicopter rating, which was issued on September 24, 2004. He also held a flight instructor certificate with helicopter rating, which was issued on June 20, 2018. He did not have an instrument rating. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on May 15, 2019, at which time he reported 2,805 hours of total flight experience.

At 1351, the weather conditions at a reporting station located in Central Park about 1 mile northeast of the accident site, at an elevation of 156 ft msl, included an overcast ceiling at 500 ft above ground level, visibility 1.25 statute miles in rain and mist, temperature 18° C, dew point 7° C, wind from 070° at 8 knots, altimeter setting 30.05 inches of mercury. According to 14 CFR Part 91.155, basic visual flight rules weather minimums for helicopters operating from the surface to 1,200 ft msl were 1/2-statute mile visibility, and remain clear of clouds.

The helicopter was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Agusta
Registration: N200BK
Model/Series: A109 E
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: N200bk Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NYC, 156 ft msl
Observation Time: 1351 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 70°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 500 ft agl
Visibility:  1.25 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: New York, NY (6N5)
Destination: Linden, NJ (LDJ) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 40.761667, -73.981944

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 ➤


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

  2. CNN reported just a Hard landing

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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...

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  8. 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.

  9. RE: alwaysastudent > 'Always' seems to have a good understanding of NYC helicopter operations. My thoughts: <1> One observation is since Linden NJ (LDJ) is SW of NYC and SSW of EWR, the pilot's route should have been East River, Statue of Liberty, S of (or over) EWR to Linden. Yet, EWR may not have allowed an E-to-W transit in that low weather because it would impinge on the EWR approach/departure traffic. N200BK would have to hold outside of Class B and wait for EWR Tower to issue a clearance to transit in-between traffic. <2> A low level crossing of Central Park from East River to Hudson River would require a LGA ATC clearance. I found no record of that. At low level, in IMC, or near-IMC, conditions, the decision is foolhardy. Tall obstacles (in this case, buildings) and very poor visibility, even at slow ground speeds, is a very bad combination. <3> As in many metro areas, pilots frequently fly, legally and safely, in VMC at low levels in uncontrolled airspace around Manhattan and surrounding areas, maintaining radio and visual contact with other helicopters, making frequent radio position reports (ie, "Helicopter N123AB over Wall Street to 34th Street on East River at 700 feet") to each other. <4> N200NK might have attempted to depart 34th St HP, fly S to Wall St (skirting the eastern shore of Manhattan) and entered very low clouds (300 ft) at the Hudson River. Having missed a landing at Wall and W 30th St HPs and feeling unsafe to make a u-turn to the left over a very foggy river, he continued N toward Central Park. Abeam CPark, he climbed into a localized area of clearer weather and by accident found himself over/between buildings. <5> This is ALL speculation. I could not find any FAA/NTSB report updates. <6> I am certain the pilot did the very best he could and, inadvertently, found himself in a bad situation that led to the accident. End.

  10. Thank you NEC Pilot for not blasting me on location info of Linden a/p. I must be thinking Teterboro or another a/p north on the Hudson. I should have checked. Newark, JFK and LGA overlap each other on the sectional chart. A helicopter route chart exists for the NYC area where more detailed info is given. From what I can interpret, NYC is very congested insofar as vfr/ifr airspace. As a very low time pilot in helos, I'm more attuned to rotorcraft accidents, initial and final reports from the NTSB. More dry but fascinating reading when poring over specific aircraft accidents and incidents while training. I found varied explanations along with fledgling knowledge before and after earning my ppl. It's unfortunate when basic airmanship is over ridden when this scenario seems to point to deliberately flying into imc without ifr certification. While weather plays a large role in this crash, we'll have to wait for the final report when the NTSB wraps up their investigation.