Last month’s crash of a television news helicopter in a southern New Jersey forest, resulting in the loss of the pilot and photographer, was not attributed to any engine problems that would have impeded normal operation, according to federal investigators on Wednesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report on the incident involving WPVI-TV’s “Chopper 6” helicopter, which occurred on the evening of December 19 in the Wharton State Forest in Washington Township, Burlington County.
The investigators revealed that the helicopter, returning to Northeast Philadelphia Airport after covering Christmas lights around 8 p.m. that night, experienced no engine anomalies that would have hindered regular functioning. Preliminary data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the helicopter, flying at approximately 1,000 feet (300 meters), veered right, descended, accelerated for a couple of minutes, and then crashed. The report detailed the wreckage of the American Eurocopter Corp. AS350B2, noting that the engine had separated from the airframe and was damaged in the post-impact fire.
The preliminary report stated, “No anomalies of the engine were discovered that would have precluded normal operation.” However, a final report is expected to take up to a year and a half to complete, as mentioned by investigators last month.
The crash claimed the lives of the pilot, 67-year-old Monroe Smith from Glenside, Pennsylvania, and photographer Christopher Dougherty, 45, from Oreland, Pennsylvania. The ill-fated flight marked the third of the day for the helicopter and crew, and it had been refueled before the accident flight, according to investigators.
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