WASHINGTON — Errors by both pilots and a distracted air traffic controller were the likely cause of the midair collision between a small private plane and a helicopter above the Hudson River in August 2009, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
The board cited inherent limitations on both pilots' ability to see and avoid the other aircraft until seconds before colliding. In addition to the pilots' error, the board determined that an air traffic controller, who was distracted by a personal telephone conversation, "failed to provide a timely transfer of information and air traffic advisories for pilots flying in the cramped Hudson River airspace."
"A lot of people made a lot of little errors and at the end of the day that's what culminated in this accident," NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman said at the meeting.
The plane, which was carrying two passengers plus the pilot, collided with the helicopter carrying a pilot and five Italian tourists. All nine were killed.
Both pilots failed to use on-board equipment to help keep themselves aware of other aircraft, the NTSB said. In addition, inadequate FAA regulations for required vertical distance between aircraft and inadequate procedures for flying in the busy airspace were also contributors to the accident, the NTSB said.
Among other things, the board recommended redefining the boundaries of the busy corridor. The FAA will review the recommendations.