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NATCA, AOPA Support FAA Task Force Plans For Hudson

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The FAA's reaction to the fatal midair collision that on Aug. 8 killed all nine aboard both a Piper Saratoga and Eurocopter is receiving support from both AOPA and NATCA. "I believe that the FAA's task force recommendations meet or exceed the NTSB's on every issue," wrote Eddie Kragh, NATCA representative to the task force and Newark controller. AOPA president Craig Fuller said, "This is a great example of the government and the industry working cooperatively and acting swiftly and decisively to enhance safety." The task force recommendations rely heavily on new rules for altitude separation, segregating transient traffic by placing it above 1,000 feet while in the Hudson exclusion area (and further segregating IFR and VFR traffic), and relegating the area of 1,000 feet and below almost exclusively to local helicopter traffic. (See the full list of recommendations, here.) NATCA noted that it had identified procedures that are presently deficient, and that "may eventually be found to be contributory to the accident." Moving forward, NATCA's Kragh said, "I am satisfied the FAA invited NATCA to participate, and considered out input at every level." Nonetheless, the recommendations of the FAA's task force may fall short of some critics.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has offered his own plan for the airspace over the Hudson River. His six-point proposal includes increased regulation for tour operators, a requirement for all aircraft in the exclusion area to file flight plans, increased staffing at area control towers and further investment into NextGen technology.

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