The 1976 Piper PA-32R single engine plane and the Liberty Tours helicopter were flying dangerously close to one another but were apparently unaware of the danger. Moments before yesterday’s fatal collision, a fellow helicopter pilot radioed the pilot of the Liberty Tours chopper and warned him:”You have a fixed-wing [referring to the Piper] behind you.”
The plane then went into a steep bank, its pilot apparently failing to see the nearby helicopter, and, at 11: 56 a.m., rammed the rear underside of the chopper in the skies over Hoboken, New Jersey. Both aircraft exploded in midair amidst a puff of smoke : the Piper’s left wing torn off, the chopper’s rotors breaking off, as they plummeted into the Hudson River and almost immediately sank beneath its choppy waters. Five Italian tourists and the pilot were killed in the Liberty Tours helicopter, while three people died in the plane. NY Times
This latest disaster comes a month after federal overseers warned that safety regulations for sightseeing/ hired flights are too lax. The Department of Transportation inspector criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for issuing dramatically weaker oversights of “on demand” flights than it does of commercial flights. In fact, since 2002 the NTSB made 16 safety recommendations in regard to the on demand flight industry…so far, none have been implemented by the FAA.