NEW YORK – A charter helicopter carrying a family of four Swedes on a sightseeing tour of New York City lost power shortly after takeoff Sunday and made an emergency landing on the Hudson River, authorities said. The pilot and occupants were uninjured.
The helicopter landed shortly before noon in the section of the river near 79th Street by the New York City Marina.
Deputy Fire Chief Thomas McKavanaugh said the helicopter had taken off from the Wall Street Heliport and lost power after 12 minutes in the air. The pilot used the craft's pontoons, and it remained upright as it landed.
"The pilot did a terrific job considering he'd lost his engine power," McKavanaugh said.
The passengers were two adults and two children from Sweden, he said. No one was injured, but the tourists were taken to the hospital for observation, authorities said.
Sebastien Berthelet, visiting from Montreal, was on a boat when the craft went down and went over to help, bringing the pilot back to shore.
"At the beginning, we thought maybe it was an exercise," he said, but then "when he hit the water, it was hard."
He said he complimented the pilot on the landing, but the pilot said it could have been smoother.
"I said, `Well, it could have been worse, too,"' Berthelet said.
Another boater brought the family back to shore, and they were all calm, he said.
"They all seemed very healthy. They were all shocked, of course," Berthelet said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the helicopter, a Bell 206, is registered to New York Helicopter, which offers sightseeing tours ranging from $139 per person for a 15-minute flight to $295 per person for a 25-minute flight. A call to the company went unanswered.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
The emergency landing on the Hudson River was reminiscent of another one where all aboard escaped unharmed. In 2009, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III safely landed a US Airways flight after striking a flock of geese. All 155 people aboard survived.
But other aviation incidents over the waterways surrounding Manhattan have been deadly.
In 2011, a helicopter crashed into the East River. Two passengers were killed at the scene, and a third died a month later.
In 2009, a collision between a tour helicopter and a small plane over the Hudson River killed nine people.