Helicopter Crashes on Top of NYC Skyscraper, Catches Fire

Sergio Conner
June 12, 2019

The helicopter pilot who crashed into the top of a Manhattan office tower on Monday was not qualified to fly in poor weather conditions, officials say.

Since the 58-year-old veteran pilot, a former volunteer fire chief in northern NY state, did not have an instrument rating, he was not qualified to fly through rain that enveloped Manhattan on Monday, officials said.

The Monday crash killed Tim McCormack and shook the AXA Equitable building, sparked a fire and forced office workers to flee.

The crash and subsequent evacuation of the building stirred memories of the September 11, 2001 attacks and brought renewed calls for tighter restrictions for New York City airspace.

The pilot, Tim McCormack, wasn't authorized to fly in limited visibility, according to FAA records.

The crash site is less than a half mile (0.8 km) from Trump Tower, where U.S. President Donald Trump maintains an apartment.

"Several witnesses have already been interviewed including the passenger on the previous flight, staff at the 34th street helipad with more witness interviews ongoing now and planned", Brazy said at the press conference.

Speaking to reporters, de Blasio indicated there's a temporary flight restriction in the airspace, requiring approval from air traffic control at LaGuardia Airport.

"Should the helicopter have been flying?" I do not know yet.

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Brazy said a preliminary report summarizing the facts of the incident should be complete in two weeks, but it could be 18 to 24 months before the investigation is complete.

Brazy said the helicopter was not equipped with a flight data recorder or a cockpit voice recorder.

The New York Times reported that the passenger was Daniele Bodini, the founder of American Continental Properties, a real estate company that used the helicopter for executive travel.

Mayor Bill de Blasio makes a statement after a helicopter crashed into a skyscraper in New York City on June 10, 2019. U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, said she wanted all "nonessential" flights banned. Winds were out of the east around 9 miles per hour at the time of the crash, though they had gusted to 20 miles per hour earlier in the day.

Sam Goldstein, a spokesman for New York's tourist helicopter industry, said operators "have already regulated themselves into a position where they're safe, predictable and a good neighbor".

McCormack was a former fire chief from Clinton Corners, New York and had 15 years of experience flying helicopters and single-engine planes.

The director at Linden Municipal Airport, Paul Dudley, described McCormack as "a highly seasoned" and "very well regarded" pilot who was a regular at the airfield.

Brazy said a salvage crew expected to start removing the wreckage from the roof by Tuesday evening, possibly by taking pieces down the stairs and elevator.

Videos posted on social media showed smoke from the crash emanating from the roof of the building, at 787 Seventh Ave. between 51st and 52nd streets.

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