WASHINGTON HHC AXB — WASHINGTON -- Federal safety officials yesterday attributed the midair collision that killed Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania and six others in April to poor judgment by the pilots of the two aircraft involved.
The pilot of the chartered plane that was carrying Senator Heinz toPhiladelphia International Airport should never have let a helicopter fly nearby in an attempt to check for a possible malfunction of the plane's nose wheel, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded.
And the helicopter pilot should never have tried such a dangerous maneuver over a crowded residential area, the board said.
Falling debris from the crash, which occurred on April 4 in Lower Merion Township, a Philadelphia suburb, killed two children in a schoolyard. Also killed were the two pilots of the plane, a two-engine Piper Aerostar PA-60, and the pilot and co-pilot of the helicopter, a Bell 412.