A preliminary NTSB accident report released last week provided details of the March 18 crash of a Eurocopter AS350 in Seattle. The pilot and the photographer aboard the helicopter were killed when it spun out of control shortly after lifting off from a TV station’s helipad near the downtown Space Needle tower. One person on the ground was seriously burned after the crash set his vehicle on fire near the crash site.
Multiple witnesses reported seeing the helicopter lift off from the helipad and begin a counterclockwise rotation before it pitched down. The helicopter continued rotating before it descended onto the occupied vehicle where the post-impact fire began.
Preliminary review of three nearby security camera recordings showed the helicopter stationary on the helipad for about 15 minutes before takeoff but confirmed the helicopter’s rotation as it began its takeoff in a near-level attitude. The helicopter rotated about 360 degrees before it pitched forward in a nose-low attitude and disappeared from the camera’s field of view.
The aircraft was registered to, and operated by, Helicopters Inc., of Cahokia, Ill., under Part 91 rules.