NEW YORK (Reuters) – A helicopter crashed onto the fog-shrouded roof of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper on Monday, killing the pilot and unnerving a metropolis nonetheless scarred by reminiscences of the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane assaults on the World Trade Center.
The crash on a wet, grey day atop the 54-storey AXA Equitable Center pressured workplace employees to evacuate in one of many metropolis’s busiest areas a number of blocks north of Times Square.
The pilot was the one individual aboard the chopper when it plunged into the constructing and burst into flames, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio instructed a information convention. No accidents, both to folks within the constructing or on the bottom, have been reported.
“The helicopter is pretty obliterated at this point. It was obviously a very hard hit,” de Blasio mentioned, including nothing indicated “an act of terrorism.”
Nicolas Estevez was standing throughout the road from the constructing when a 12-inch (30 cm) piece of metallic that gave the impression to be from the helicopter landed on the pavement simply toes away.
The crash, which despatched folks streaming out of the constructing inside seconds, reminded him of Sept. 11, Estevez mentioned.
“I saw the explosion and the smoke coming out,” he mentioned.
A key thriller within the crash is why the Agusta A109E was flying in any respect in a rainstorm in tightly managed airspace above midtown Manhattan.
To enter that neighborhood, de Blasio mentioned, the pilot would have wanted approval from the air visitors management tower at LaGuardia Airport throughout the East River in Queens, “and we need to find out if that happened.”
The Federal Aviation Administration mentioned in a press release “FAA air traffic controllers did not handle” the helicopter’s flight, however a spokeswoman for the company declined to say whether or not the plane was observing prevailing flight restrictions.
The pilot was recognized as Tim McCormack, who was going to land at Linden Airport in New Jersey, mentioned Paul Dudley, the airport’s director.
“Tim McCormack is a well-respected, highly trained veteran pilot who also had tremendous local knowledge, having flown in this area for many years,” Dudley mentioned in a telephone interview. “We’re all saddened and shocked.”
McCormack labored for Daniele Bodini, founding father of the actual property agency American Continental Properties Group, Dudley mentioned.
The chopper took off from a heliport on Manhattan’s east facet at 1:32 p.m. and crash-landed on the constructing 11 minutes later, officers mentioned.
The web site is about half a mile from Trump Tower, the place U.S. President Donald Trump maintains an residence. The space has been below a brief flight restriction since his election in November 2016.
FELT LIKE HE WAS SHOVED
Nathan Hutton, who works in info expertise for the French financial institution BNP Paribas on the 29th flooring, mentioned the constructing shook when the helicopter slammed into the roof.
“It felt like you were just standing there, and someone takes their hand and just shoves you,” he mentioned. “You felt it through the whole building.”
Trump referred to as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was on the scene quickly after the crash, to supply help if wanted, the governor’s workplace mentioned.
Cuomo mentioned the crash possible stirred reminiscences of Sept. 11 for a lot of metropolis residents.
“If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11,” he mentioned.
In addition to BNP Paribas, the AXA Equitable Center, inbuilt 1985 homes places of work for company tenants reminiscent of regulation companies Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Sidley Austin, and funding supervisor New Mountain Capital. Le Bernardin, certainly one of New York City’s most celebrated eating places, can be within the constructing.
The skyscraper is managed by Los Angeles-based WidespreadWealth Partners. WidespreadWealth workplace supervisor LeAnn Holsapple mentioned the corporate had “no comment at this time.”
Manhattan has solely three permitted heliports after they had been banned in New York City in 1977 after a rotor blade snapped on a helicopter on prime of the previous Pan Am constructing, killing 5 folks.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely, Jonathan Allen, Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Gorman; Writing by Joseph Ax and Bill Tarrant; Editing by Bill Rigby, Tom Brown and Chris Reese