The FAA on Wednesday published its proposed new rules that would modify the VFR airspace above the Hudson River in New York, in response to a fatal midair collision in August in which nine people were killed. The proposal formalizes the plan announced last month, which was supported by both AOPA and NATCA. The proposed changes would restructure the airspace, mandate pilot operating rules, create a new entry point into the Hudson River airspace from Teterboro, standardize New York area charts and develop new training for pilots, air traffic controllers and businesses that operate helicopters and aircraft in the area. The only cost to pilots, the FAA says, would be $5.25 for new aeronautical charts, which they must carry on board while flying in the corridor. Comments will be accepted on the proposed rules until Oct. 16.
The FAA says pilot training regarding changes in procedures is voluntary, and the changes are expected to improve airspace safety. Therefore, the FAA said, the new rule will have minimal impact. Also this week, both houses of Congress heard testimony about the crash and its repercussions. On Tuesday, the Senate Aviation Subcommittee heard testimony from representatives of the NTSB, FAA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the National Air Transportation Association. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., who chaired the Senate hearing, asked if additional radar installations could provide air traffic controllers with better information about aircraft movements, but Newark controller Edward Kragh said even if controllers were able to see all those aircraft on their scopes, there is not enough ATC staff to provide the same level of safety that pilots can provide for themselves. The full text of all testimony and a video archive of the hearing are posted online at the committee's Web site. And on Wednesday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Aviation also reviewed the event, hearing testimony from representatives of the NTSB, FAA, NATCA, AOPA, NATA and also the Helicopter Association International. A summary of the issues and a Webcast of the hearing are available online.