2007 Phoenix news helicopter collision

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Phoenix Eurocopter AS-350 news helicopter collision
CG renderings of N215TV (top) and N613TV (bottom)
Date July 27, 2007 (2007-07-27)
Summary Mid-air collision due to pilot error
Site Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
33°29′47.98″N 112°4′14.06″W / 33.4966611°N 112.0705722°W / 33.4966611; -112.0705722Coordinates: 33°29′47.98″N 112°4′14.06″W / 33.4966611°N 112.0705722°W / 33.4966611; -112.0705722
Total fatalities 4 (all)
Total injuries 0
Total survivors 0
First aircraft
Type Eurocopter AS-350 B2[1]
Name Chopper15
Operator KNXV-TV
Registration N215TV[2]
Passengers 1
Crew 1
Fatalities 2 (all)
Injuries 0
Survivors 0
Second aircraft
Type Eurocopter AS-350
Name Newschopper3
Operator KTVK
Registration N613TV[3]
Passengers 1
Crew 1
Fatalities 2 (all)
Injuries 0
Survivors 0

On July 27, 2007, two AS-350 AStar helicopters from television stations KNXV-TV and KTVK collided in mid-air over Phoenix, Arizona, while covering a police pursuit.[4][5] On board the two aircraft were four people in total – a pilot and a photographer in each helicopter – all of whom were killed, while no casualties were reported on the ground.[6]


KNXV was the area's ABC affiliate, while KTVK was an independent news station, formerly an ABC affiliate itself. The KNXV helicopter was broadcasting a police pursuit live when the collision occurred, at 12:46 p.m. MST. Both aircraft came down in the Steele Indian School Park, central Phoenix.[7]

Three other news helicopters from other stations (KSAZ, KPNX and KPHO) were in the area and within seconds began reporting on the crash. A photograph taken moments after the collision and showing both helicopters plunging towards the ground was circulated by AP.[8]

Aftermath and investigation[edit]

An AS350 news helicopter of ABS-CBN network, similar to the aircraft involved in the accident

The collision was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which concluded that "...the probable cause of this accident was both pilots' failure to see and avoid the other helicopter. Contributing to this failure was the pilots' responsibility to perform reporting and visual tracking duties to support their station's electronic news gathering (ENG) operation. Contributing to the accident was the lack of formal procedures for Phoenix-area ENG pilots to follow regarding the conduct of these operations."[5]

The day of the accident, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris brought up the possibility that the suspect in the chase the two helicopters were covering could "be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy".[9] However, in 2010, when the suspect pleaded guilty to 35 crimes stemming from the 2007 police chase, he was not charged with the deaths of the helicopter occupants.[10]

Two years after the accident, the families of pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox announced that a settlement for an undisclosed amount was agreed to with US Helicopters, the owners of the Channel 15 helicopter. Both legal teams released a video reconstructing details of the accident. The footage shows the Channel 3 (KTVK) helicopter being struck from behind by the Channel 15 (KNXV) helicopter.[11][12]


At the time of the accident, five news helicopters were covering the police incident, and specific protocols (called Sharp Echo) for radio communications between news helicopters and Phoenix control tower were already in force, in an attempt to co-ordinate their activity.[5]

As of 2017, the five English-language television stations in Phoenix use two helicopters; KTVK and KPHO – which came under common ownership in 2014 – use one aircraft, while the other is shared by KNXV, KSAZ and KPNX.[13] In neither operation do pilots perform reporting duties.[14] Additionally, technological improvements such as long-range camera lenses allow helicopters to stay further back from news stories.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-07-29. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  2. ^ "FAA Registry (N215TV)". Federal Aviation Administration. 
  3. ^ "FAA Registry (N613TV)". Federal Aviation Administration. 
  4. ^ "4 Dead As 2 Helicopters Tracking Police Pursuit Collide". KPHO-TV. 2007-07-27. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  5. ^ a b c Midair Collision of Electronic News Gathering Helicopters KTVK-TV, Eurocopter AS350B2, N613TV, and U.S. Helicopters, Inc., Eurocopter AS350B2, N215TV Phoenix, Arizona, July 27, 2007 (PDF) (Report). National Transportation Safety Board. 28 Jan 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "Two helicopters crash while covering chase". AZFamily.com. 2007-07-27. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  7. ^ "Deaths in US TV helicopter crash". BBC News. 2007-07-28. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  8. ^ "Remembering the 2007 Phoenix news-helicopter crash that killed 4". Azcentral.com. 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  9. ^ "Topic Galleries - chicagotribune.com". Chicago Tribune. 
  10. ^ Kiefer, Michael (2010-07-13). "Phoenix news helicopters crash: Driver in police chase pleads guilty". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Helicopter Collision- High Resolution". YouTube. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  12. ^ "Helicopter Crash Phoenix Computer Animation". YouTube. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  13. ^ a b abc15.com staff (27 July 2017). "10 years later: What's changed since Phoenix TV chopper crash?". ABC15. 
  14. ^ Catherine Holland; Diana Rossi (27 July 2017). "3TV, ABC 15 news choppers collided in mid-air killing 4 a decade ago". AZFamily. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 

External links[edit]