19 Responses

  1. Bruce Kane
    Bruce Kane at |

    As much as the inadvertent fuel shutoff appears to be a proximate cause for the ditching, the fact that the passengers were unable to release their harnesses would seem to be the main issue. Limiting “doors off” operations isn’t going to solve the problem of getting loose from the restraints in an emergency.

    1. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      It will fix the problem in that these harnesses are only used on those flights. If the doors are on there is no need for the harness so you’re back to the factory-installed seat belt which is an FAA-approved quick-release.

    2. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      We also need to remember the other contributing factors. Why didn’t the skip floats keep the helo afloat longer to allow for more evacuation time, for example?

      Rarely is a single issue responsible for aviation incidents or accidents. That will be the case here as well. But some matter more than others.

    3. Bruce Kane
      Bruce Kane at |

      Yes, it is usually a series of individual smaller items that individually are survivable but when combined cause a major incident.

    4. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      I would imagine those are more expensive, Joel, but that’s just a (well-educated) guess.

    5. Stephen Trimble
      Stephen Trimble at |

      I’ve flown in an EC-130 on a doors off sightseeing tour. I can imagine that, if you’re already scared because you’re crashing and then if you’re paralyzed as the cabin fills with ice cold water, it’d be nearly impossible to remember how to get out of the harness, unless you’ve been drilled on it like the pilot had.

  2. Brian Podolsky
    Brian Podolsky at |

    The harness somehow affected the fuel shutoff switch? Were the passengers not harnessed properly? If they were, how has this not happened already? How awful

    1. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      A similar incident in 2008 is mentioned in terms of the harnesses being a problem.

      As for the fuel switch and such, I think that part of the issue is that most passengers likely don’t slide around the same way as the pilot reports the front seat passenger did. Should the straps be shorter so they couldn’t reach that switch to potentially block it? Or some other means to prevent an inadvertent shutoff? Sure. But in the meantime it seems to be a major contributing factor based on the preliminary report.

  3. firsttofly
    firsttofly at |

    The goal of NYON’s homebuilt harnessing system is to keep passengers in the aircraft at altitude, not to allow them to quickly egress from the aircraft. The risk of accidentally self-ejecting from the helicopter using a typical quick release system is relatively greater than the risk of crash landing in water and needing to quickly escape, so that’s deemed to be the acceptable risk. As a former NYON employee, I’m intimately familiar with the harnessing components and I can unequivocally say that there’s almost zero chance of escaping in a quick manner, especially not when you’re capsized in murky water. The fundamental assumption is that you’ll land safely, and absent that all bets are off.

  4. Albert C. Lee
    Albert C. Lee at |

    Where is the emergency fuel cutoff lever located? Above, or on the console?

    1. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      On the floor console according to this: https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/606426-helicopter-down-east-river-nyc-3.html. That thread also suggests that it is normally “locked” in flow mode and would be pretty hard to switch to the other position.

    2. Albert C. Lee
      Albert C. Lee at |

      Thx. Ok, here it is on N350LH. How do you manage to accidentally hook anything on that?

    3. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      Massive conjecture on my part, but if the pax spun sideways and pulled the strap to full extension and then it slipped down then sat himself back up when the pilot got mad maybe tugging on the strap would catch under the lever and move it. Without knowing the lengths of the straps and such, however, and never having been in the type I’m really just guessing.

    4. Albert C. Lee
      Albert C. Lee at |

      It’s certainly not impossible I guess, but having done a number of flights in that very seat, doors open and closed in N350LH and N351LH, you’d have to really be out of bounds to have gotten anywhere close to that kill lever, shoe selfie or not.

    5. Seth Miller
      Seth Miller at |

      I suppose there is also always the option of “something else happened” but the pilot is the only survivor so that makes it much harder to know other options. I agree that, based on the location and operation of the mechanism, there are some questions to be asked/answered about how that could happen. I trust that the NTSB will do that. The organization is pretty incredible at investigations.

  5. Willy
    Willy at |

    Why no seawater activated belt release mechanism?

  6. Orange 23
    Orange 23 at |

    Unless there’s a significant mechanical failure, a helicopter can, after loss of power, autorotate to achieve a soft or low impact touch down. The aircraft would then likely remain upright while floating for a considerable length of time. Is this pure conjecture? Well, I’m a former U.S. military helicopter pilot with considerable combat experience and countless practice autorotations in numerous different series and models.

  7. Christopher Brawley
    Christopher Brawley at |

    „I wonder what this switch does?“… famous last words. ????