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Overloading, pilot response cited in fatal 2011 helicopter crash

U.S. safety authorities on Friday said a fatal crash at a New York City heliport in 2011 was likely due to overloading and the pilot's failure to recover from an unexpected flight motion.

Three people suffered fatal injuries when the helicopter plunged into the East River shortly after takeoff.

The victims included Sonia Marra, a British woman living in Sydney, Australia, who was in New York to celebrate her 40th birthday. Also killed were Marra's mother, Harriet Nicholson, who was also British but lived in Portugal, and domestic partner, Helen Tamaki, who was a citizen of New Zealand but lived in Sydney.

The pilot was a family friend who survived.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a report Friday that the helicopter was between 28 pounds (12 kilograms) and 261 pounds (118 kilograms) overweight when it took off.

Investigators say the weight, wind factors, an ineffective pilot maneuver in response to an onboard alarm and a subsequent surprise yaw caused the aircraft to spin out of control.

The NTSB report finalizes preliminary conclusions described in another report released in December.

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