NTSB: Pilot error caused fatal helicopter crash in Bahamas


A pilot error caused the helicopter crash that killed coal billionaire Chris Cline and six others in the Bahamas in 2019, federal officials said.

The two pilots’ decision to take off in the AgustaWestland AW139 over water in dark night conditions with no external visual reference resulted in spatial disorientation and the subsequent crash off Big Grand Cay, according to a report. released Thursday by National Transportation Safety. Advice.

Cline, the two pilots, Cline’s adult daughter and three of her friends were killed in the crash in July 2019.

Investigators determined that the pilots were likely under external pressure from Cline, the plane’s owner, to complete the flight. Cline’s daughter and a friend of hers were ill and Cline wanted them taken from her private island to a hospital in Florida, officials said.

Shortly after take-off, a witness saw the helicopter turn three to four times to the left, followed by a hissing hiss and the sound of an impact, according to the report. It was found upside down in about 16 feet (5 meters) of water with its rotor blades separated. The helicopter wreckage was transported to Jacksonville for examination by the NTSB.

Cline’s death led to praise from leaders in the coal industry, government officials and academics, who described him as a visionary and generous philanthropist. He amassed a fortune of $ 1.8 billion from a career he began years ago as a coal miner in southern West Virginia. Cline bought Big Grand Cay in 2014.

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