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N71MC accident description

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Tail numberN71MC
Accident dateAugust 08, 2009
Aircraft typePiper PA-32R-300
LocationHoboken, NJ
Near 40.743333 N, -74.021667 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On August 8, 2009, about 1153 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N71MC, operated by a private pilot, and a Eurocopter AS350 BA helicopter, N401LH, operated by Liberty Helicopters, were substantially damaged following a midair collision over the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot and two passengers aboard the airplane and the certificated commercial pilot and five passengers aboard the helicopter and were killed. The airplane flight was a personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.The helicopter flight was a local sightseeing flight conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Parts 135 and 136. The airplane departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, about 1149, destined for Ocean City Municipal Airport, Ocean City, New Jersey. The helicopter departed West 30th Street Heliport, New York, New York, about 1152. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans were required or filed for either flight. However, the pilot of the airplane requested flight-following services from TEB air traffic control (ATC).

The pilot of the accident airplane contacted the clearance delivery controller in the TEB ATC tower about 1140:01, requesting departure clearance and VFR radar traffic advisory service en route to Ocean City, New Jersey, at 3,500 feet. The pilot's requested route and altitude required that the flight enter the class B airspace overlying TEB. The clearance delivery controller issued the pilot a discrete transponder code. While the airplane was taxiing to the runway, the TEB local controller offered the pilot the choice of departing TEB straight out or over the river. The pilot elected to fly down the Hudson River, which necessitated eventual coordination with controllers at EWR for authorization to climb into the class B airspace. However, existing procedures did not require TEB controllers to coordinate for a class B clearance for the pilot, and the local controller did not do so.

The accident airplane departed TEB about 1149 and the local controller advised the pilot of a helicopter arriving at the airport. The local controller instructed the pilot to remain at or below 1,100 feet. At this time, the tower controller initiated a non-business-related phone call to Teterboro Airport Operations which lasted until about one second prior to the collision. The airplane flew southbound until the local controller instructed the pilot to turn left (southeast) and join the Hudson River. About 1152:20, the pilot acknowledged an instruction from the TEB local controller to change frequencies and contact controllers at EWR. A preliminary review of recorded ATC communications showed that the pilot did not contact EWR before the accident. About 1153:17, about the time of the accident, the TEB local controller contacted the EWR controller to ask about the airplane and was told that the pilot had not called. There are no known additional ATC contacts with the airplane. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has not determined what frequency the pilot was monitoring at the time of the accident.

The accident helicopter departed from the 30th Street Heliport, which is in the Hudson River class B exclusion area, about 1152, for a 12-minute tour. The initial part of the tour was to be flown below class B airspace, so the pilot was not required to contact ATC. Although the nature of any transmissions made by aircraft on the CTAF is not known because the CTAF is not recorded, a Liberty Helicopters’ pilot waiting to depart from the heliport reported that the pilot of the accident helicopter made a position report on the CTAF just before the collision. The first radar target for the accident helicopter was detected by the Federal Aviation Administration's EWR radar site about 1152:27, when the helicopter was west of the heliport, approximately mid river, and climbing through 400 feet. According to recorded radar data, the helicopter flew to the west side of the river and then turned south to follow the Hudson River. The accident helicopter continued climbing southbound until 1153:14, when the collision occurred.

Radar data and witness statements indicate that the aircraft collided at 1,100 feet in the vicinity of Stevens Point. Most of the wreckage fell into the Hudson River; however, some small debris from the airplane, including the right main landing gear wheel, fell on land within the city limits of Hoboken. The collision was witnessed by numerous people in the area of the accident and was immediately reported to local emergency responders. The helicopter was recovered on August 9, 2009. Most of the helicopter components were accounted for at the scene, with the exception of the main rotor and transmission. The airplane was recovered on August 11, 2009. Most of the airplane components were accounted for at the scene, with the exception of both wings. The wreckage of both aircraft were subsequently transported to a secure facility in Delaware.

The pilot of the airplane, age 60, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on May 14, 2009. At that time he reported a total flight experience of 1,020 hours.

The pilot of the helicopter, age 32, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for rotorcraft helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on June 16, 2009. At that time he reported a total flight experience of 3,010 hours.

Digital photographs and a video recording taken by witnesses to the accident have been provided to the NTSB. In addition, a digital camera was recovered from the helicopter. All of these were sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for further examination. Global Positioning System units were recovered from both aircraft and also forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory.

The recorded weather at TEB at 1151 was wind variable at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 24 degrees Celsius, dew point 7 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.23 inches of mercury.

On August 8, 2009, about 1153 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N71MC, operated by a private pilot, and a Eurocopter AS350 BA helicopter, N401LH, operated by Liberty Helicopters, were substantially damaged following a midair collision over the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot and two passengers aboard the airplane and the certificated commercial pilot and five passengers aboard the helicopter and were killed. The airplane flight was a personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.The helicopter flight was a local sightseeing flight conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Parts 135 and 136. The airplane departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, about 1149, destined for Ocean City Municipal Airport, Ocean City, New Jersey. The helicopter departed West 30th Street Heliport, New York, New York, about 1152. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans were required or filed for either flight. However, the pilot of the airplane requested flight-following services from TEB air traffic control (ATC).

The pilot of the accident airplane contacted the clearance delivery controller in the TEB ATC tower about 1140:01, requesting departure clearance and VFR radar traffic advisory service en route to Ocean City, New Jersey, at 3,500 feet. The pilot's requested route and altitude required that the flight enter the class B airspace overlying TEB. The clearance delivery controller issued the pilot a discrete transponder code. While the airplane was taxiing to the runway, the TEB local controller offered the pilot the choice of departing TEB straight out or over the river. The pilot elected to fly down the Hudson River, which necessitated eventual coordination with controllers at EWR for authorization to climb into the class B airspace. However, existing procedures did not require TEB controllers to coordinate for a class B clearance for the pilot, and the local controller did not do so.

The accident airplane departed TEB about 1149 and the local controller advised the pilot of a helicopter arriving at the airport. The local controller instructed the pilot to remain at or below 1,100 feet. At this time, the tower controller initiated a non-business-related phone call to Teterboro Airport Operations which lasted until about one second prior to the collision. The airplane flew southbound until the local controller instructed the pilot to turn left (southeast) and join the Hudson River. About 1152:20, the pilot acknowledged an instruction from the TEB local controller to change frequencies and contact controllers at EWR. A preliminary review of recorded ATC communications showed that the pilot did not contact EWR before the accident. About 1153:17, about the time of the accident, the TEB local controller contacted the EWR controller to ask about the airplane and was told that the pilot had not called. There are no known additional ATC contacts with the airplane. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has not determined what frequency the pilot was monitoring at the time of the accident.

The accident helicopter departed from the 30th Street Heliport, which is in the Hudson River class B exclusion area, about 1152, for a 12-minute tour. The initial part of the tour was to be flown below class B airspace, so the pilot was not required to contact ATC. Although the nature of any transmissions made by aircraft on the CTAF is not known because the CTAF is not recorded, a Liberty Helicopters’ pilot waiting to depart from the heliport reported that the pilot of the accident helicopter made a position report on the CTAF just before the collision. The first radar target for the accident helicopter was detected by the Federal Aviation Administration's EWR radar site about 1152:27, when the helicopter was west of the heliport, approximately mid river, and climbing through 400 feet. According to recorded radar data, the helicopter flew to the west side of the river and then turned south to follow the Hudson River. The accident helicopter continued climbing southbound until 1153:14, when the collision occurred.

Radar data and witness statements indicate that the aircraft collided at 1,100 feet in the vicinity of Stevens Point. Most of the wreckage fell into the Hudson River; however, some small debris from the airplane, including the right main landing gear wheel, fell on land within the city limits of Hoboken. The collision was witnessed by numerous people in the area of the accident and was immediately reported to local emergency responders. The helicopter was recovered on August 9, 2009. Most of the helicopter components were accounted for at the scene, with the exception of the main rotor and transmission. The airplane was recovered on August 11, 2009. Most of the airplane components were accounted for at the scene, with the exception of both wings. The wreckage of both aircraft were subsequently transported to a secure facility in Delaware.

The pilot of the airplane, age 60, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on May 14, 2009. At that time he reported a total flight experience of 1,020 hours.

The pilot of the helicopter, age 32, held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for rotorcraft helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on June 16, 2009. At that time he reported a total flight experience of 3,010 hours.

Digital photographs and a video recording taken by witnesses to the accident have been provided to the NTSB. In addition, a digital camera was recovered from the helicopter. All of these were sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C. for further examination. Global Positioning System units were recovered from both aircraft and also forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory.

The recorded weather at TEB at 1151 was wind variable at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 24 degrees Celsius, dew point 7 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.23 inches of mercury.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.