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Thread: Helicopter crashes onto roof of Manhattan building in poor weather.

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Ok, but in the civilized world, aka Manhattan, we generally don't see rusty old skyhawks flying around with their doors missing. I think you can install a panel mount unit for less than the price of a basic android phone. Speaking of which...
    Door might not be missing, but other stuff is. I don't think there are any TSO'd panel mounts for much under $5,000 unless things have changed drastically.

  2. #42
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    Door might not be missing, but other stuff is. I don't think there are any TSO'd panel mounts for much under $5,000 unless things have changed drastically.
    I see your point that this helicopter might not have had GPS. It was apparently N200BK, a 2000-build AW109E Power. The newer ones come with integrated, moving map GPS but I don't think a 2000 build would have.
    So we're talking about a helicopter with a current market value of $1M to $1.5M and a high operating cost servicing VIP transport in some of the most dangerous airspace in the country. And we're talking about around $5000 for a vital panel-mount nav upgrade. Yes, I'm not qualified in any way to say this, but it seems pretty unlikely that GPS wouldn't have creeped into this thing by now.

    Here are a couple 2000-builds I found doing a very quick search. Note the listed avionics include aftermarket GPS.

    https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/hel...e-power/352067
    https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/hel...e-power/350992

    Now, IMHO, regardless of what happened here, I think the FAA should require ALL general aviation aircraft operating in crowded, urban airspace to have some form of reliable GPS moving-map navigation installed. Why? To help prevent them from getting lost and flying into tall buildings. What about the little guy who can't afford a $5000 GPS unit? I doubt he has any reason to fly in that airspace, but if he does, it must be pay-to-play.

  3. #43
    Senior Member 3WE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    ***I think the FAA should require ALL general aviation aircraft operating in crowded, urban airspace to have some form of reliable GPS moving-map navigation installed. Why? To help prevent them from getting lost and flying into tall buildings. What about the little guy who can't afford a $5000 GPS unit? I doubt he has any reason to fly in that airspace, but if he does, it must be pay-to-play.
    Before or after we get the side-sonar destroyer fleets with required recurrent training?
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I see your point that this helicopter might not have had GPS. It was apparently N200BK, a 2000-build AW109E Power. The newer ones come with integrated, moving map GPS but I don't think a 2000 build would have.
    So we're talking about a helicopter with a current market value of $1M to $1.5M and a high operating cost servicing VIP transport in some of the most dangerous airspace in the country. And we're talking about around $5000 for a vital panel-mount nav upgrade. Yes, I'm not qualified in any way to say this, but it seems pretty unlikely that GPS wouldn't have creeped into this thing by now.

    Here are a couple 2000-builds I found doing a very quick search. Note the listed avionics include aftermarket GPS.

    https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/hel...e-power/352067
    https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/hel...e-power/350992

    Now, IMHO, regardless of what happened here, I think the FAA should require ALL general aviation aircraft operating in crowded, urban airspace to have some form of reliable GPS moving-map navigation installed. Why? To help prevent them from getting lost and flying into tall buildings. What about the little guy who can't afford a $5000 GPS unit? I doubt he has any reason to fly in that airspace, but if he does, it must be pay-to-play.
    Noted, thanks.

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    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3WE View Post
    When did you try to make a point...
    When I said "I bet that lack of means to know where he was was not the reason why he didn't know where he was.".

    ... and when did I argue against it?
    I don't know. Where did I say you did? I was taking what you said to reinforce my point.

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  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I see your point that this helicopter might not have had GPS. It was apparently N200BK, a 2000-build AW109E Power. The newer ones come with integrated, moving map GPS but I don't think a 2000 build would have.
    So we're talking about a helicopter with a current market value of $1M to $1.5M and a high operating cost servicing VIP transport in some of the most dangerous airspace in the country. And we're talking about around $5000 for a vital panel-mount nav upgrade. Yes, I'm not qualified in any way to say this, but it seems pretty unlikely that GPS wouldn't have creeped into this thing by now.

    Here are a couple 2000-builds I found doing a very quick search. Note the listed avionics include aftermarket GPS.

    https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/hel...e-power/352067
    https://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/hel...e-power/350992

    Now, IMHO, regardless of what happened here, I think the FAA should require ALL general aviation aircraft operating in crowded, urban airspace to have some form of reliable GPS moving-map navigation installed. Why? To help prevent them from getting lost and flying into tall buildings. What about the little guy who can't afford a $5000 GPS unit? I doubt he has any reason to fly in that airspace, but if he does, it must be pay-to-play.
    How would that have made a difference?

    I seem to remember a top-notch general aviation equipped with a top-notch digital panel including top-notch GPS with top-notch moving map crashing int a building in a top-notch VFR day. Was it a baseball player?

    Now you have a VFR pilot lost in IMC probably struggling to keep blue over brown... How would a GPS with moving map have made a difference?

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  7. #47
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    How would that have made a difference?

    I seem to remember a top-notch general aviation equipped with a top-notch digital panel including top-notch GPS with top-notch moving map crashing int a building in a top-notch VFR day. Was it a baseball player?

    Now you have a VFR pilot lost in IMC probably struggling to keep blue over brown... How would a GPS with moving map have made a difference?
    Well, to begin with, I'm talking once again about satety through redundancy. We have some safety already in that we restrict VFR pilots from going into IMC, which means all they really need is a clean windscreen. But, when that fails, because pilots miscalculate or break rules, we need something else. Instruments are not the best defense if the pilot is not well-trained on them. However, a moving map GPS, such as the one on my iPhone, is entirely intuitive. Where am I? Oh, there I am, and this is the direction I'm moving in, and there's the obstructions I need to avoid. Secondly, even for IMC-rated pilots, in an enviroment like Manhattan, where safe flight corridors are very narrow and tall buildings are in direct proximity, GPS provides greater positional accuracy than traditional instruments and doesn't rely on precise pilot calculations. Or am I wrong about that?

    Thirdly, and this somewhat mirrors my argument on search and rescue, the cost-barrier is relatively minimal and if it saves some lives, is well-justified.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel
    ...my point...
    Ok...your point is that it’s not that he was lost, but ‘attitude disoriented’...I think.

    I believe the baseball player crash did involve some low ceilings- forcing him to fly low- but yes, his operations were visual.

    I set up a rough simulation of that (strong ‘cross’ winds) and found it a little tricky to avoid buildings.
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Well, to begin with, I'm talking once again about satety through redundancy. We have some safety already in that we restrict VFR pilots from going into IMC, which means all they really need is a clean windscreen. But, when that fails, because pilots miscalculate or break rules, we need something else. Instruments are not the best defense if the pilot is not well-trained on them. However, a moving map GPS, such as the one on my iPhone, is entirely intuitive. Where am I? Oh, there I am, and this is the direction I'm moving in, and there's the obstructions I need to avoid. Secondly, even for IMC-rated pilots, in an enviroment like Manhattan, where safe flight corridors are very narrow and tall buildings are in direct proximity, GPS provides greater positional accuracy than traditional instruments and doesn't rely on precise pilot calculations. Or am I wrong about that?

    Thirdly, and this somewhat mirrors my argument on search and rescue, the cost-barrier is relatively minimal and if it saves some lives, is well-justified.
    I don't think that a moving map is more intuitive than an artificial horizon which looks like... the real one. And pilots struggle to keep blue over brown. And many time lose it. Even sometimes IMC-rated, legally current pilots.

    The corridors in Manhattan are VFR corridors. If you suddenly find yourself in IMC in Manhattan you better simply climb above the MSA (which a simple moving map will not show) to avoid any obstacles (which a simple moving map will not show).

    If you manage to keep blue over brown, then a simple moving map may help you avoid Manhattan altogether, but not navigate around the buildings.

    Of course you can also squawk 7700 and call "mayday, I am lost in IMC, get me out o here" and a guy with a fixed map and your blip superimposed on it with altitude information, who knows where the buildings are, will give you vectors (even "turn-stop" vectors so you don;t even need to watch the directional gyro or compass, just the attitude indicator). Following vectors is simpler than following a moving map, and yet disoriented pilots tend to fail at that too. Something as "simple" as flying a heading (or wings level, let alone any particular heading) may become impossible for a disoriented pilot.

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  10. #50
    Senior Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    I don't think that a moving map is more intuitive than an artificial horizon which looks like... the real one. And pilots struggle to keep blue over brown. And many time lose it. Even sometimes IMC-rated, legally current pilots.
    Obviously, I'm talking about area navigation, not attitude.

    The corridors in Manhattan are VFR corridors. If you suddenly find yourself in IMC in Manhattan you better simply climb above the MSA (which a simple moving map will not show) to avoid any obstacles (which a simple moving map will not show).
    Does that mean you cannot take off from, or fly into, a Manhattan heliport unless it is a cloudless, sunny day? If so, then never mind. Once again, I'm advocating redundancy, because clouds happen, fog happens, and pilots take chances and break rules.

    If you manage to keep blue over brown, then a simple moving map may help you avoid Manhattan altogether, but not navigate around the buildings.
    The idea isn't to navigate around buildings. It is to remain safely removed from them, over the rivers.

    Of course you can also squawk 7700 and call "mayday, I am lost in IMC, get me out o here" and a guy with a fixed map and your blip superimposed on it with altitude information, who knows where the buildings are, will give you vectors (even "turn-stop" vectors so you don;t even need to watch the directional gyro or compass, just the attitude indicator). Following vectors is simpler than following a moving map, and yet disoriented pilots tend to fail at that too. Something as "simple" as flying a heading (or wings level, let alone any particular heading) may become impossible for a disoriented pilot.
    Yes, you could do that. But then why didn't he? Why did he end up over the city, on top of a building, dead? He radioed that he wsn't sure of his position. Nobody gave him his position or any vectors. Again Gabriel, redundancy.

  11. #51
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    Obviously, I'm talking about area navigation, not attitude.
    I know. Area navigation REQUIRES attitude control and VFR pilots in IMC are well known for being incredible good at LOSING attitude control.
    There is a reason why aviate comes before navigate. And, before you tell me that navigate comes before communicate, yes, but there is an exception: when communication is sub-process of navigation.

    Does that mean you cannot take off from, or fly into, a Manhattan heliport unless it is a cloudless, sunny day?
    No, I said VFR, not sunny and cloudless, and I said corridors not take-off and landing.
    Anyway, not sure but I don't think that any heliport in the top of a building is approved for IMC operations.

    Once again, I'm advocating redundancy, because clouds happen, fog happens, and pilots take chances and break rules.
    What's the backup for a disoriented VFR pilot in IMC? A moving map? I don't think so.

    Yes, you could do that. But then why didn't he? Why did he end up over the city, on top of a building, dead?
    Because he was using 120% of his brain bandwidth trying to keep blue over brown. Let alone fly a constant heading. Let alone one particular target heading. Moving map or not.

    He radioed that he wasn't sure of his position. Nobody gave him his position or any vectors.
    He radioed whom? ATC?

    Again Gabriel, redundancy.
    I am all for redundancy. I don't think that in this case a moving map would have been an effective redundancy for spatial disorientation of a VFR pilot in IMC.

    Maybe an autopilot would have been. If he knew how to use it well enough to use it correctly on short notice in a high-stress unexpected situation.

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  12. #52
    Senior Member Gabriel's Avatar
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    https://www.flyingmag.com/ntsb-inves...icopter-crash/

    The weather at the time appears to have played a role, with reports of one-half-mile visibility and a ragged 400-foot overcast.

    After the helicopter took off, it flew around the southern tip of Manhattan past Battery Park and then was seen flying erratically over the Hudson River. Video of the helicopter posted on Twitter shows the helicopter briefly going out of control in a steep nose-down attitude before the pilot regained control and then, for unknown reasons, began climbing and disappearing into the clouds above.

    The pilot, Tim McCormack of Clinton Corners, New York, held a commercial helicopter pilot certificate but not an instrument rating, according to FAA records. The helicopter was fully IFR equipped with an autopilot, according to a pilot who worked for the company that owned it.

    Reports say the pilot was not in contact with ATC.
    FAA regulations allow helicopters to operate in the airspace around New York City with as little as a half-mile visibility and clear of clouds, meaning the flight may have been operating legally before the pilot climbed into the clouds.
    Really? 1/2 mile? VFR or IFR? Because if IFR and the pilot was not IFR-rated, then it is obviously not legal.

    I can't find it, but I read somewhere else that the pilot was in radio contact with their company and they told him to land. I doubt his company has capability to provide vectors.

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  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    https://www.flyingmag.com/ntsb-inves...icopter-crash/





    Really? 1/2 mile? VFR or IFR? Because if IFR and the pilot was not IFR-rated, then it is obviously not legal.

    I can't find it, but I read somewhere else that the pilot was in radio contact with their company and they told him to land. I doubt his company has capability to provide vectors.
    It sounds as if he was flying legally below the cloud ceiling but had controllability issues which caused him to climb into IMC.

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    Reference 14 CFR 91.155(a), day VFR minimum for helicopters below 1,200AGL is 1/2 mile and clear of clouds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    Reference 14 CFR 91.155(a), day VFR minimum for helicopters below 1,200AGL is 1/2 mile and clear of clouds.
    Thank you.

    That's amazing. I have flown marginal VFR with 6 times that visibility and it gets really tricky. The visibility is not a "now you see, now you don't" situation (as the clouds practically are). You look straight down and see the field perfectly clear, then as you start to move your sight away the image starts to loose fidelity and contrast, the different features become shades of gray that, as you look further and further, converge to the same "medium gray" until you just can't distinguish things. What you have is a circular fuzzy visible horizon that is way below the real horizon (the higher you fly the smaller the circle and the more it goes below the horizon) which makes quite tricky to tell your attitude by visual reference, both in pitch and in roll.

    I can't imagine how a fuzzy foggy 0.5 miles visibility may look and feel like at 1000 ft. Or I can, and it is scary, if you are not flying by instruments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    It sounds as if he was flying legally below the cloud ceiling but had controllability issues which caused him to climb into IMC.
    And do you think that the controllability issues were mechanical in nature?

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    I think it seems more plausible than a veteran pilot suddenly flying erratically while still (apparently) communicating lucidly.
    But who knows. There's not much left to tell the tale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Evan View Post
    I think it seems more plausible than a veteran pilot suddenly flying erratically while still (apparently) communicating lucidly.
    But who knows. There's not much left to tell the tale.
    A veteran VFR pilot flying in super-marginal-at-best weather conditions. And he managed to recover at least the 1st time, which seems quite incompatible with mechanical controllability issues especially in a helicopter, and when he did communicate ("lucidly" may be but perhaps in panic) he said I don't know where I am, not the helicopter is not responding.

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  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by News
    McCormack received his commercial pilot's license in 2004, according to Federal Aviation Administration records, and he was certified as a flight instructor for a rotorcraft-helicopter last year.
    Quote Originally Posted by ATLcrew View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel
    4-stripes epaulets and no instrument rating?
    Not uncommon with rotorcraft pilots.
    Ok ALT, here we are with a textbook outsider-insider moment.

    -Weather happens.
    -You are a commercial pilot
    -You have been flying commercially for almost 15 years
    -You fly rich and famous people around NY which has a TON of airspace and does a lot of things by IFRULES (regardless of VMC)
    -I'd assume you could use an instrument rating to:
    [indent]-Go wherever you need to go in IMC
    [indent]-Not get lost when you do
    [indent]-Might get meaningfully-increased access to airspace around the New Yark area (to drop off your rich and famous pax to catch their Falcon jets)
    [indent]-[indent]-(Yes, I know Special VFR is probably 95% effective)
    [indent]-Commercial flying creates demand to fly when there is weather
    [indent]-Last but not least, whether you are current or not, an IFR rating it is moderately useful to keep the aircraft rotor-side up and in control- and we think this helicopter had a working AI.

    Finally, I'm not saying you have to be IFR CURRENT, but that ability to keep the dang thing right side up seems awfully basic and something I hate to see not available...ESCPEICALLY IF YOU ARE A 15-YEAR COMMERCIAL PILOT OF MOST ANYTHING BUT A GLIDER OR BALOON.

    We should require this, in Manhattan esepecially! (/slightly blue font but slightly black font too).

    PS, ALT what did I say above that is wrong?
    Les règles de l'aviation de base découragent de longues périodes de dur tirer vers le haut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    Thank you.

    That's amazing. I have flown marginal VFR with 6 times that visibility and it gets really tricky. The visibility is not a "now you see, now you don't" situation (as the clouds practically are). You look straight down and see the field perfectly clear, then as you start to move your sight away the image starts to loose fidelity and contrast, the different features become shades of gray that, as you look further and further, converge to the same "medium gray" until you just can't distinguish things. What you have is a circular fuzzy visible horizon that is way below the real horizon (the higher you fly the smaller the circle and the more it goes below the horizon) which makes quite tricky to tell your attitude by visual reference, both in pitch and in roll.

    I can't imagine how a fuzzy foggy 0.5 miles visibility may look and feel like at 1000 ft. Or I can, and it is scary, if you are not flying by instruments.
    Keep in mind that helicopters routinely operate at very low altitudes (500' or lower), very low speeds, have the ability to change direction very rapidly, and, of course, land anywhere (at least, in theory), so operating in conditions that a fixed-wing pilot wouldn't go near is a regular occurrence for them.

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