Below is an excerpt from The Seattle Times coverage — and you can read the full article here.
KOMO, aviation contractor point fingers at each other during trial over deadly 2014 helicopter crash
Before a KOMO-TV helicopter plunged off the station’s rooftop near the Space Needle four years ago, killing two people aboard and crashing onto two motorists on the street below, the aviation contractor that supplied the chopper says it raised safety concerns about landing at KOMO’s heliport.
Pilot Gary Pfitzner “was not super experienced” or commercially certified to fly the Eurocopter “AStar” — a temporary substitute for the Bell chopper he’d flown for years for KOMO, said Jeffrey Lieber, vice president of operations for contractor Helicopters Inc., during a sworn deposition last year.
“We felt it was better to operate from the (Renton Municipal) airport,” Lieber said. “Gives us a wider margin of safety because we’re not operating from a constricted, confined area.”
But instead, the news station, which had only recently been purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, pressured the helicopter firm to have Pfitzner refuel the loaner chopper on KOMO’s helipad — a landing spot elevated 75 feet in a congested city that posed more risks for pilots and the public, Lieber said.
The reason? Sinclair wanted to save money on fuel, he said.