New York News

Miracle on the Hudson: Helicopter makes emergency landing in river

Monday, July 01, 2013
hard landing for helicopter on hudson river helicopter crash in hudson

A charter helicopter carrying a family of four Swedes on a sightseeing tour of New York City lost power shortly after takeoff Sunday and made an emergency landing on the Hudson River, authorities said. The pilot, 23, and the helicopter's occupants were uninjured.

The helicopter landed shortly before noon in the section of the river near 79th Street Boat Basin.

Deputy Fire Chief Thomas McKavanaugh said the helicopter had taken off from the Wall Street Heliport and lost power after 12 minutes in the air. The pilot used the craft's pontoons, and it remained upright as it landed.

"The pilot did a terrific job considering he'd lost his engine power," McKavanaugh said.

The passengers were two adults and two children from Sweden, he said. No one was injured, but the tourists were taken to the hospital for observation, authorities said.

Sebastien Berthelet, visiting from Montreal, was on a boat when the craft went down and went over to help, bringing the pilot back to shore.

"At the beginning, we thought maybe it was an exercise," he said, but then "when he hit the water, it was hard."

He complimented the pilot on the landing, but the pilot said it could have been smoother.

"I said, 'Well, it could have been worse, too,'" Berthelet said.

Another boater brought the family back to shore, and they were all calm, he said.

Newscopter 7's John Del Giorno explains that when a chopper auto-rotates, or lands without engine power, that the pilot gets only one shot. He needs to arm the floats, then inflate them, and know exactly when to hit the brakes. In this case, the timing was perfect.

It was not the case a year and a half ago in the East River, when three tourists were killed after the same type of chopper had no pontoons and plunged into the water.

Late Sunday, New York Helicopter, the sightseeing company running the flight, issued a statement saying:

"Unfortunately sometimes machines do fail, but everyone is going home in one piece, and that's a tribute to our pilot and our company."

New York Helicopter offers sightseeing tours ranging from $139 per person for a 15-minute flight to $295 per person for a 25-minute flight.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

The emergency landing on the Hudson River was reminiscent of another one where all aboard escaped unharmed. In 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III safely landed a US Airways flight after striking a flock of geese. All 155 people aboard survived.

But other aviation incidents over the waterways surrounding Manhattan have been deadly. /p>

In 2011, a helicopter crashed into the East River. Two passengers were killed at the scene, and a third died a month later.

And in 2009, a collision between a tour helicopter and a small plane over the Hudson River killed nine people.

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