Tim McCormack, the 58-year-old pilot who died in Monday’s helicopter crash in New York City, was not certified to fly in limited visibility, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Tuesday.
McCormack’s Agusta A109E helicopter crashed into the 229-meter (750-foot) tall AXA Equitable building in midtown Manhattan on Monday, sparking a fire and forcing office workers to evacuate. McCormack was the only person in the helicopter and was the only one killed in the crash.
McCormack was not certified to use instruments to help fly through cloudy or bad weather, the FAA said. According to his certification, he was only certified to fly according to what is known as visual flight rules, which require generally good weather and clear conditions.
Those rules require at least 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) of visibility and that the sky is clear of clouds for daytime flights. The visibility at the time of the crash was about 2 kilometers, with low clouds blanketing the sky.
The AXA Equitable building on 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan on the day of the helicopter crash
McCormack was a former fire chief from Clinton Corners, New York and had 15 years of experience flying helicopters and single-engine planes. He was also certified as a flight instructor last year, the FAA said.
‘Nothing out of the ordinary’
Federal investigators have yet to determine why McCormack was flying over one of the United States’ most densely populated areas. The crash has renewed calls to restrict airspace over the city.
Before the incident, McCormack had flown a single passenger from Westchester County, an area north of New York City, to a heliport on the East River, according to air safety investigator Doug Brazy from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The passenger told investigators that there was “nothing out of the ordinary” about the 15-minute flight.
According to Brazy, the pilot waited at the heliport for two hours and checked the weather conditions before taking off for a journey that was supposed to take him to the helicopter’s home airport in Linden, New Jersey.
Investigators are reviewing social media footage showing the helicopter believed to be McCormack’s Agusta A109E hovering a short distance south of the heliport, then turning and making an erratic flight back north through the rain clouds.
dv/se (AP, Reuters)
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