The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has interviewed the only survivor of Tuesday’s helicopter crash into New York City’s East River – the pilot.

The Airbus Helicopter plunged into the river and rolled inverted during an autorotation, killing five passengers and injuring the pilot. The aircraft was “substantially damaged,” according to the NTSB, which conducted an examination of it at the New York Police Department’s Aviation Unit headquarters in Brooklyn as part of its investigation.


The pilot of the flight operated by Liberty Helicopters contacted the LaGuardia Airport air traffic control tower for entry into the airspace. Five minutes later, the pilot declared “Mayday” and stated that the helicopter’s engine had failed.

The aerial photography flight originated from Helo Kearny Heliport (65NJ), Kearny, New Jersey.

Parties to the NTSB investigation are the Federal Aviation Administration, Liberty Helicopters and the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile (BEA France). Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines are technical advisors to the investigation.

Significant activities yesterday included:

  • Engine was prepared for removal and teardown
  • Helicopter structure and systems examined by airworthiness investigators.
  • Rotor and flight control systems examination initiated
  • Survival factors investigators examined and documented passenger restraint system
  • Investigators interviewed Liberty Helicopters’ chief pilot
  • Interviewed witnesses and rescue personnel
  • Interview with accident pilot to be scheduled

The NTSB’s Transportation Disaster Assistance team consulted with NYPD regarding personal effects

Recovered electronic devices, including a Go-Pro camera, which is being sent to the NTSB laboratories in Washington for readout

Imagery of the ongoing NTSB investigation are available at the NTSB's Flickr page at and video is available at the NTSB's YouTube Channel at