NTSB probes New York skyscraper helicopter crash

June 11, 2019
Firefighters look over the helicopter wreckage. Photo: FDNY

The US National Transportation Safety Board has sent an investigator to determine why a helicopter crashed on the roof of a skyscraper, startling New York residents Monday.

The pilot has been identified as Tim McCormack and there is speculation he was attempting to make an emergency landing just 11 minutes into a flight that started at the 34th Street heliport on Manhattan’s east side.

The company that owned the helicopter, American Continental Properties,  said McCormack  had flown for it for five years.

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A law enforcement source told CNN that the pilot was waiting for the weather to clear but decided it was OK to fly.

The Agusta 109E helicopter was destroyed when it came down on 54-story office building in 7th Avenue and firefighters took 30  minutes to put out the fire.

Tweets by firefighters showed there was little left of the helicopter and Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to say there was no indication the crash was terror-related.

He acknowledged that the accident could have been much worse had the helicopter crashed in a busy street rather than on the rooftop.

People in the building said they could feel it shake as the helicopter hit and there was chaos as they tried to evacuate.

“It took a half hour to get from the 29th floor down to the ground floor,’ Nathan Hutton, who works in the building, told CNN.

“There were just too many people, it was too crowded, and everybody was trying to get off on all the floors at the same time,” he said.

“You could feel the building shake, and you could actually hear the alarms.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the incident brought back memories of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11,” he said. “And I remember that morning all too well. So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, my mind goes where every New Yorker’s mind goes.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said it did not handle the flight.

Helicopters are common in New York and this is the second incident in less than two months. A Bell 206 crash-landed on the Hudson River in May but the pilot escaped.