There's simply no consensus about how to regulate aircraft in the crowded airspace above the Hudson River. Yesterday the FAA announced new rules for the area—rules that fundamentally differ from those recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, which issued its own recommendations last month. And neither of those sets of rules have satisfied some local politicians, who want an immediate ban on the kind of helicopter tourism that contributed to the horrific midair collision on Aug. 8th between a single-engine plane a chopper packed with Italian tourists.
The FAA's new rules, which are expected to go into effect in November, will require pilots to use specific radio frequencies for the Hudson River and the East River, would set speeds at 140 knots or less, and would require pilots to turn on anti-collision devices, position or navigation equipment and landing lights. Good call! But Rep. Jerrold Nadler calls the plan "fundamentally inadequate," primarily because he wants all planes flying in the corridor to have a cockpit device that warns when another aircraft is too close. Nadler tells the Post, "The situation was not improved. It was made worse."
Critics are also upset that the FAA is not forcing air traffic controllers to manage all flights over the Hudson; currently pilots flying under 1,100 feet and over the river avoid each other simply by looking out the cockpit window. The new FAA rules would create three altitude corridors over the Hudson; in the lower two (below 1,300 feet), pilots would still rely on the "see and avoid" method, but would also be required to tune their radio to "the common traffic advisory frequency," and announce their location and route. Also, fixed-wing airplanes leaving Teterboro Airport would enter the uncontrolled air corridor via a special route over the George Washington Bridge.
Nadler wants the FAA to track all aircraft below 1,100 feet on radar, and also opposes the recommendation that helicopters stick to the lowest altitude corridor (below 1,000 feet) because it will add to the city's cacophony. He tells the Daily News, "We should not try to solve one issue and create a noise nuisance that it that will negatively millions of New Yorkers." Speaking to the Times, Senator Chuck Shumer urged the FAAA to "go back to the drawing board and put in the necessary additions to keep the corridor safe."