Hudson VFR Corridor Targeted in Wake of Midair
New York City’s Hudson River VFR corridor came under fresh and vociferous political attack in the wake of Saturday’s fatal midair between a Piper PA-32R and a Liberty Helicopters Eurocopter AS 350B2 that killed nine. At a press conference yesterday, several politicians, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), denounced the FAA’s “Wild West approach” to regulating the airspace, and New York City council member Gale Brewer demanded a ban on helicopter tour flights in the area. Nadler said, “It is unconscionable that the FAA permits unregulated flights in crowded airspace in a major metropolitan area.” He called for mandatory TCAS on all U.S. GA aircraft and compulsory flight plans for every aircraft using the Hudson corridor regardless of altitude. New York City Mayor Bloomberg, himself a fixed-wing and rotorcraft private pilot, defended the corridor Saturday, calling it important to tourism, but said he was open to increased regulation of the airspace. A one-mile-radius TFR remains over the crash site from the surface to 1,000 ft agl, forcing helicopters using the West 30th Street heliport to shift to northerly operations. An NTSB spokesman said he could not confirm reports that the Piper pilot reported engine failure shortly before colliding with the helicopter.