East River Helicopter Crash


NTSB To Interview Pilot In East River Helicopter Crash

March 13, 2018 - 11:13 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The safety harnesses that trapped five passengers when their helicopter went down in the East River are under scrutiny.

In a video one of the victims posted to Instagram, the passengers were seen smiling and giving the thumbs up on takeoff but we're learning that they were ill-prepared for the rare emergency water landing Sunday night.

The harnesses that let the five young passengers lean out of the chopper over the skyline became death traps as the downed helicopter quickly sunk and flipped over in the icy waters, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported. They were unable to free themselves with the knives that were available in case of an emergency.

All five perished. Only the pilot survived.

Eric Adams, a photographer who was on a different helicopter Sunday night, told the New York Post they watched a brief safety video that showed them a knife in their harnesses but didn't provide instructions on how to use it.

One aviation lawyer tells the New York Times the growing industry of off-door flights marketed to tourists is not well-regulated and shouldn't be allowed.

The NTSB is investigating the cause of the crash.

The pilot, 33-year-old Richard Vance, reportedly told NYPD investigators that one of the passenger's safety harnesses may have inadvertently wrapped around the emergency fuel shut off button and by the time he noticed he could not restart the engine.

CBS News Transportation Safety analyst and former NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said that is a feasibility.

"Some of the earlier models that don’t have the two-step protection that are now on board the aircraft,” Rosenker said. “In this particular case, if in fact there was no guard around it, then potentially something could have turned the emergency fuel shutoff off.”

NTSB investigators are expected to interview the pilot later Tuesday.

The NTSB team will be on the scene for about five to seven days, with a mission to find out what happened and why. They will examine air traffic control, operations, airworthiness, survival factors, power plans, and weather.