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[09/02] NTSB releases factual report on Seattle news chopper crash

September 02, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) – Federal investigators have released factual findings into last year’s Seattle news helicopter crash that killed two men on board and burned a third on the ground.

But the new National Transportation Safety Board report doesn’t come to conclusions about what likely caused the fiery March 2014 crash near the Space Needle.

The probable cause of the crash will be spelled out in another report, likely out in two to eight weeks, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said.

The factual report released Tuesday describes how the helicopter crashed as it attempted to take off from the helipad on the roof of KOMO-TV headquarters, hitting two cars before bursting into flames.

The crash killed pilot Gary Pfitzner, 59, and former KOMO-TV news photographer Bill Strothman, 62. Richard Newman, 38, was seriously burned when the helicopter crashed on his car.

The factual report found no evidence of “mechanical anomalies with the engine” of the helicopter. But it said the pre-flight checklist provided to the pilot was out-of-date and missing a revision designed to prevent a specific anomaly that had caused crashes of this model helicopter during takeoff, The Seattle Times reported (http://is.gd/o56nnW).

It confirms that the pilot worked very long hours, adding the early morning part-time KOMO pilot shifts to a full-time day job as an engineer, the Times reported.

A family member told investigators that Pfitzner “was in excellent health, had no sleep disorders, and had performed this schedule for many years.”


Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com