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Merger of missteps led to midair collision

 FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2009, file photo, emergency service personnel work at the scene of a helicopter crash on the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J. A t...
 FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2009, file photo, the wreckage of a helicopter that collided with a private plane is seen on a Hoboken, N.J. pier. A federal ...

Hudson Mid Air Collision

FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2009, file photo, emergency service personnel work at the scene of a helicopter crash on the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J. A t...

Hudson Mid Air Collision

FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2009, file photo, the wreckage of a helicopter that collided with a private plane is seen on a Hoboken, N.J. pier. A federal ...

A midair collision last year over the Hudson River in New York City between a tour helicopter and a small plane that claimed nine lives resulted from a series of missteps by that began minutes before the accident, investigators told a federal safety board on Tuesday. Five Italian tourists were among the dead.
An air traffic controller, engaged in a bantering personal phone call while directing traffic, was distracted and violated several procedures, investigators said. As a result, the pilot of the small plane probably was using the wrong radio frequency, which prevented controllers from reaching him moments later to warn of the impending crash with the helicopter, they said.
The Teterboro Airport controller, who cleared the plane for takeoff, waited more than two minutes to give the pilot a new radio frequency when he handed off the plane to controllers at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport. When the controller relayed the frequency to the pilot, he spoke very rapidly, making his words difficult to understand, investigators said.
The pilot, Steven Altman, 60, read back the frequency to the controller incorrectly as 127.8 instead of 127.85. Controllers are supposed to listen to a pilot's readback of a frequency and correct it if it is incorrect. The controller was busy handling other traffic, however, and, distracted by the personal phone call, probably did not hear the incorrect readback. He also received a radio call from Newark controllers at the same moment.
The National Transportation Safety Board was meeting to determine the cause of the accident and make safety recommendations.
The accident also underscores weaknesses in cockpit technology designed to prevent such collisions, the board was told. The pilots of both aircraft apparently overlooked alerts from traffic advisory systems in their cockpits moments before the accident.
The crash occurred in a busy air corridor over the river where pilots are supposed to use "see and avoid" procedures to prevent collisions. Aircraft in the corridor are not actively separated by air traffic controllers.
The helicopter's pilot, Jeremy Clarke, 32, apparently could not see the plane, investigators said. Clarke would have had to look behind his right shoulder to have seen it coming.
The helicopter was visible out the window of the plane, a Piper Lance. A presentation by investigators demonstrated, however, that it would have been difficult for Altman to discern the helicopter against the background of the New York skyline until the last few seconds before the accident.
Altman and his two passengers _ his brother, Daniel Altman, 49, and his 16-year-old son, Douglas _ were killed in the collision. Also killed were Clark and five tourists from the Bologna area of Italy: Michele Norelli, 51; his son Filippo Norelli, 16; Fabio Gallazzi, 49; his wife, Tiziana Pedroni, 44; and their son Giacomo Gallazzi, 15.
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Online:
http://www.ntsb.gov


Updated : 2021-10-17 21:25 GMT+08:00