When news of a mid-air collision between two news helicopters hit the news forums (read: Fark), the immediate reaction was “it was just a matter of time”. While mainstream media is slashing real reporters, they’re shelling out more and more for gimmicks like police-chase news helicopters, so viewers can get real-time updates on how some idiot is trying to get away from police.
The problem isn’t that there are too many helicopters trying to cover the same thing. It’s not that air traffic controllers are failing to separate low-flying aircraft. It’s one, simple phrase:
These news choppers have two people on board: A camera operator, who focuses the video camera on what’s being covered, and the reporter, who describes what’s going on while, you know, piloting a low-flying aircraft in heavy traffic.
The fact that this is common doesn’t make it any less ludicrous. A pilot’s sole mission should be to fly an aircraft. So many aircraft crashes and near-crashes have taken place because pilots become distracted. To have a pilot in a dual-role which requires him to concentrate on some non-flying activity is just asking for trouble.
It’ll be a while before we find out what exactly led to this crash. Perhaps it was something out of both pilots’ control. But either way, I can’t imagine how separating the duties of reporter and pilot can’t lead to safer flights.