Pilot in New York chopper crash not certified for bad weather

Firefighters work on the scene of a helicopter that crash-landed on top of a high-rise in midtown Manhattan in New York on June 10, 2019. (AFP)

The helicopter pilot killed when his chopper crash-landed atop a midtown Manhattan skyscraper in showers and fog was not licensed to fly the aircraft in bad weather, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday.

Tim McCormack, the pilot, was the only person aboard when the helicopter slammed onto the roof of the 50-story office tower on Monday afternoon with enough force to jolt employees of the finance and law firms housed on the floors below.

The chopper burst into flames on impact, unleashing a plume of smoke from the top of the high-rise that stirred memories of the two airliners flown by hijackers into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

McCormack was flying over one of the nation’s densest urban districts through rain and low clouds despite not being “instrument rated,” meaning he was not licensed to use the onboard systems to navigate the aircraft in limited visibility, the FAA said.

Authorities said they believe the helicopter, a privately-owned aircraft used for executive charter flights, came down by accident, though the cause of the crash remained unknown.

The crash, fire and subsequent evacuation of the building renewed calls for tighter restrictions for New York City’s airspace. US Representative Carolyn Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, said she wanted all “nonessential” flights banned.

McCormack was 58 and from Clinton Corners, New York, according to local media. He was an experienced pilot who had taken off from an East River heliport in Manhattan en route to Linden Airport, about 20 miles (32 km) southwest in New Jersey, according to Paul Dudley, the airport’s director.

He crashed about 10 minutes later.

Earlier that day, McCormack had flown a passenger to Manhattan from a suburb north of New York City, a 15-minute trip, federal investigator Doug Brazy told a news conference on Tuesday.

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