In the wake of the fatal collision between a small fixed-wing airplane and a sightseeing helicopter, officials gathered today at the 30th Street Heliport on the west side to demand that the F.A.A. and the city ban tourism helicopter flights over the densest parts of Manhattan. Meanwhile, outside an East Harlem elementary school, Mayor Bloomberg said he was leaving the decision up to the F.A.A., telling reporters, "They don’t need me weighing in. They know certainly well what goes on there. They are professionals. I assume they’re going to wait until the National Transportation Safety Board to make its report and then they’ll make their decisions."
Regulating the Hudson River's lower airspace would probably require additional air-traffic control resources from Newark or La Guardia Airports, which are already spread thin. When asked whether the F.A.A. should build new towers to regulate air traffic over the Hudson, Bloomberg said a new tower would be expensive and would not necessarily prevent accidents from happening: "There's no reason you couldn't do that on the Hudson River, it's just to say, who's going to pay for it?"
At the heliport press conference, other officials—including Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, and City Council members Christine Quinn and Gale Brewer—demanded an immediate end to "the Wild West approach to Hudson River airspace." Brewer, who has been trying to limit tourism helicopters for some time now, said, "These flights are loud, low and dangerous, hovering over tall residential buildings, parks and playgrounds." And according to Nadler, "It is unconscionable that the F.A.A. permits unregulated flights in a crowded airspace in a major metropolitan are."
At the crash area on the Hudson, police divers believe they have located the plane, a Piper single-engine aircraft, and are trying to pinpoint its exact location on the bottom of the Hudson River. The bodies of two plane passengers have not yet been found.