FAA Panel To Review Hudson Operations
The FAA has convened a New York Airspace Working Group that will review current operating procedures in the VFR corridor over the Hudson and East Rivers and recommend safety improvements to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt by the end of next week. FAA air traffic and safety experts will make up the panel. They will solicit comments from helicopter and aircraft operators and review air traffic and pilot procedures. They will also review and analyze a variety of proposals to change the operating procedures in the VFR corridors. "We strongly encourage pilots to use standard practices in that area now, but it may make sense to require them," Babbitt said. "We've heard a lot of other good ideas about improving safety there and I'm looking for a quick, but thorough review by the safety experts." AOPA and EAA have sent a joint letter to Babbitt urging a restrained response to the Aug. 8 midair collision that prompted the review.
"Acting precipitously, without all the facts, may have unintended consequences while failing to improve safety or prevent future problems," reads the letter, which is signed by both EAA President Tom Poberezny and AOPA President Craig Fuller. EAA and AOPA especially took issue with depictions of the corridor as the "Wild West," noting that hundreds of aircraft safely use the Hudson corridor every day, and the recent midair was the first such accident in nearly 50 years. Airspace such as the Hudson River Class B exclusion zone has recommended procedures, a designated CTAF, right-of-way rules, and defined vertical and lateral boundaries, AOPA said. A Notam published on Aug. 11 advises pilots who fly in the corridor to turn on their lights, use special radio frequencies, announce when they enter the airspace and fly at 140 knots or less. Fuller also said he was pleased with the FAA's "measured approach" to making any changes. "AOPA looks forward to taking part in the discussion," he said.