The NTSB has begun trying to learn what caused the pilot of a Eurocopter AS350B2 to lose control of the newsgathering rotorcraft moments after liftoff from a TV station helipad in downtown Seattle on March 18. The pilot and a TV station photographer were killed in the accident.
The NTSB is reportedly looking at possible failure of the helicopter’s tail-rotor system after a witness reported that the aircraft began rotating counter-clockwise shortly after liftoff from the helipad. The fireball following the crash engulfed three automobiles on the ground, injuring one driver, who was treated for serious burns at a local hospital.
The aircraft, owned by Helicopters Inc. and operated by KOMO-TV, was headed to Renton and did not appear to have struck any nearby buildings before the accident. The crash prompted Seattle’s mayor to ask the city to re-examine its regulations about helipads.