Calls Intensify For Closing Of Hudson VFR Corridor
The horrific midair accident above the Hudson River last Saturday that killed nine people in a Piper Saratoga and a Europcopter AS350 helicopter has prompted calls from officials across the Northeast to impose stricter restrictions on the VFR corridor through New York City's congested airspace. On Tuesday, 15 members of Congress sent a letter to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt comparing the lack of regulation to the "Wild West" and saying "we should seriously consider banning all flights below 1,100 feet until radar systems are available to track them." The National Air Transportation Association said this week the media attention following the accident has been misplaced. "The characterization of the airspace as devoid of regulation is inaccurate," said NATA in a news release. "The airspace being referred to as 'uncontrolled' only indicates that there is no active radar-based control of flights. Operations in this airspace are still subject to numerous regulatory requirements."
NATA President James Coyne added: "Until the NTSB releases their findings, I believe it is imperative that we follow the advice of Mayor Bloomberg and avoid unnecessary speculation." The letter from Congress suggested that all aircraft in the corridor should be required to file flight plans, and "at a minimum, the FAA must require the installation of the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS-II), and a Mode C Transponder, on all aircraft that seat less than 10 people." The group called for the FAA to act not only to regulate the Hudson River corridor, but "to provide greater oversight of small aircraft operations throughout the country."