Sikorsky S-76B, New York, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2005–The United Technologies S-76 refueled at a riverside heliport and was being repositioned to another spot to pick up passengers. The pilot flying described the conditions as “dark, drizzling rain, northerly winds 8 to 10 knots, [and an] unusually high water level of the…river.” The pilot flying was in the right seat; the pilot-in-command was in the left.
The pilot flying lifted into a hover, facing the river. The PIC cleared the area and the helicopter moved slowly to the right. It passed a helipad that jutted into the river, and the PIC had difficulty judging “how far forward or back we were,” he reported, with “no lateral position lines painted on the helipad deck to judge…position.” He saw a sea wall and realized that the helicopter was drifting backward and called, “Don’t come back any farther.” He felt a vibration and took the controls and landed. The tail rotor had hit a fence.