NTSB Releases Preliminary Findings In Fatal WBTV Helicopter Crash
Two weeks after the fatal helicopter crash that killed WBTV Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary findings into the crash. The report indicates the crash happened during a training exercise.
Here is the full report:
On November 22, 2022, at 1157 eastern standard time, a Robinson Helicopter R44, N7094J, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident at Charlotte, North Carolina. The commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The helicopter was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial observation flight.
The purpose of the flight was to provide training for the staff meteorologist over a simulated news scene. Radar, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data, and surveillance video revealed that the helicopter departed from the WBTV Heliport at 1150 and proceeded southbound for about 5 minutes until over Interstate (I) 77. The pilot then performed three left 360° turns. During the third turn, the helicopter entered a rapid descent and impacted a grassy area adjacent to the southbound lanes of I-77. The pilot was in contact with Charlotte (CLT) air traffic control tower at the time; however, a review of the communication recordings did not reveal any calls of distress.
The helicopter came to rest about 20 ft from the point of initial impact, and oriented on a heading of 015°. There was no fire. Portions of the landing gear were found within the initial impact crater. All the primary structural components and rotor blades were located within the confines of the main wreckage.
The wreckage was retained for further examination.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two people have died in a helicopter crash on the southbound side of Interstate 77 near Nations Ford Road around noon Tuesday. No road vehicles were involved in the crash, with the wreckage on the banking along the southbound side of I-77. Medic confirmed 2 people had died on the scene.
In a statement, Charlotte news station, WBTV, confirmed it was their news helicopter and the identities of the 2 victims in the crash:
The WBTV family is grieving a terrible loss. Our news helicopter Sky3 crashed late Tuesday morning with two of our colleagues on board. Meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag lost their lives. We are working to comfort their families in this difficult time. We appreciate the outpouring of support for our staff and your continued prayers for their families.
CMPD Chief Jennings gave a briefing Tuesday afternoon. Jennings said the pilot appeared to make “diversionary moves” to avoid hitting any traffic, adding that the pilot is a hero in his eyes by ensuring the safety of those driving on the road.
CMPD along with the Charlotte Fire Dept and NC State Highway Patrol will secure the scene as they await the arrival of the FAA and NTSB who will conduct the investigation.
The NC Dept. of Transport and CMPD announced just after 4:30pm that the two left lanes of I-77 South are now open in time for the evening commute. The right lane and entrance ramp from Tyvola Rd to I-77 South will remain closed until 6 a.m. CMPD advises drivers to drive cautiously as workers and investigators are still on the scene. All southbound lanes and the ramps from Tyvola Rd and I-85 North & South had been closed since early Tuesday afternoon. Delays will remain in the area for some time. Avoid the area is possible.
An NTSB representative told WCCB:
[The] NTSB is aware of the crash and an investigator is on route to the scene now. He is expected to arrive tonight where he will conduct an initial scene assessment and then continue the assessment tomorrow morning.
A preliminary report will be available in 3 weeks with the final report – which will include the probable cause and any contributing factors, will be completed within 12-24 months.
The FAA released the following statement:
A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed near I-77 South and Nations Ford Road in Charlotte, N.C., around 12:20 local time today. Two people were on board. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents.