Irish-American volunteer fire chief, 58, named as pilot killed in helicopter crash on New York City skyscraper
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Irish-American volunteer fire chief, 58, named as pilot killed in helicopter crash on New York City skyscraper

THE pilot who died when his helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a New York City skyscraper has been named as an Irish-American volunteer fire chief.

Tim McCormack, 58, died shortly before 1.43pm (6.43pm GMT) on Monday when his Agusta A109E helicopter burst into flames atop the AXA Equitable building at 787 Seventh Ave in Midtown Manhattan.

Smoke was seen billowing from the roof of the 54-storey high-rise as it was evacuated along with several other nearby buildings.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to confirm the crash was not an act of terror, and said there were no injuries to anyone in the skyscraper itself or on the ground.

President Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash as he praised the response of the emergency services.

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Mr McCormack had been waiting out bad weather but ultimately took off from the 34th Street Heliport on Manhattan's east side 11 minutes before the crash at 1.32pm, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said.

He may have been heading back to the helicopter's home base in Linden, New Jersey after dropping off his boss in Manhattan, Commissioner O'Neill added.

Linden Airport Director Paul Dudley confirmed that Mr McCormack was hired to fly for the helicopter's owner, Daniele Bodini, who he said commuted between the city and upstate New York.

The Agusta A109E helicopter was privately-owned by American Continental Properties, which confirmed that the deceased had flown for them for the past five years.

Mr McCormack – who qualified as a Rotorcraft flight instructor last year – had been certified in 2004 to fly helicopters and single-engine airplanes, according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records.

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He also served as Chief of the East Clinton Volunteer Fire Department (ECVFD) in Dutchess County, New York for 10 years having first joined in 1994.

The ECVFD paid tribute to McCormack in a statement on Facebook, saying: "Tim was a dedicated, highly professional and extremely well trained firefighter. Tim's technical knowledge and ability to command an emergency were exceptional.

"Chief McCormack was extremely respected by not only the members of the department, but throughout the Dutchess County fire service.

"Tim will be exceptionally missed by this department's members, not only for his leadership but for his wonderful sense of humor. Rest in Peace Brother."

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Shocking photographs released by the FDNY showed the aircraft was completely obliterated on impact with the roof of the AXA Equitable building.

Only a few pieces of the helicopter's wreckage were recognisable as having been parts of an aircraft – including a piece of the tail – while damage to the building itself appeared light.

Mr McCormack had reportedly radioed that he was in trouble just moments before the chopper went down.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating whether the pilot received approval from La Guardia tower to go into the restricted airspace where the crash occurred amid heavy rain and fog.