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No flaws found on wrecked 'copter

Published October 24. 2012 05:02PM

TOBYHANNA, Pa. (AP) Federal aviation authorities say there is no evidence that a helicopter that crashed in northeastern Pennsylvania earlier this month, killing two people, had any mechanical problems.

The National Transportation Safety Board says in a preliminary report that a passenger had texted minutes before the Oct. 9 crash that they were "running late."

Authorities said the 2007 Bell 407 aircraft was flying in instrument weather conditions, meaning the pilot could not have seen the ground or horizon, before it went down in Coolbaugh Township. Safety board officials said earlier that visibility at the time was only a quarter-mile out of the aircraft's window and only 100 feet up and down.

"There was no evidence of any pre-impact failures, or malfunctions of the rotor system, flight control system or aircraft structure," the report said.

Pilot William Ellsworth, 52, of Califon, N.J., and Tighe Sullivan, 51, of Darien, Conn., were killed and another man was injured.

Officials said the three were on their way back from a golf outing in New York.

Investigators said the helicopter with the pilot and four passengers aboard flew from Camden County Airport in New Jersey to Somerset Airport near Somerville, N.J., where one passenger was dropped off. The aircraft then flew to Elmira, N.Y., where another passenger was dropped off, and the pilot and remaining two passengers set out at 6:45 p.m. for Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y.

Authorities said a limousine driver who was supposed to pick up one of the passengers got a text from the passenger at 7:38 p.m. saying they were "running late."

Officials say 15 minutes later, the driver got another text asking him to go to Morristown Airport to pick up the passenger.

The driver waited there, but the helicopter never arrived, and authorities believe it crashed at about 8 p.m.

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