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August 8th, 2009, 04:26 PM
Nine feared dead in NY air crash
from BBC

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg: "This has changed from a rescue to a recovery mission"

Nine people are feared dead after a tour helicopter and a light aircraft collided near New York City and crashed into the Hudson River.

The collision occurred between Hoboken, in New Jersey, and Manhattan, just across the river.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said six people - one pilot and five Italian tourists - were on the helicopter. Three people including a child were on the plane.

He said no-one was thought to have survived. Two bodies have been found.

Mr Bloomberg said that the emergency operation was moving from a rescue to a recovery mission.

He said it appeared the plane had flown into the rear of the helicopter, but stressed that an investigation needed to be carried out.

There was some evidence from an eyewitness that one of the wings of the aircraft had been severed, the mayor said.

He said rescue workers had located some wreckage, probably of the helicopter, but that due to the limited visibility 30ft under the water it had not been possible to confirm which of the aircraft it was.

Falling debris

Television footage showed rescue craft heading to the site from both sides of the Hudson River after the incident happened.

"We heard first a huge crash, a boom almost. We turned around and saw these two mushroom splashes," said Melissa Green, who was having lunch on the New York bank of the river at the time.

"I hope they find the people, but I don't know. They just disappeared," the Associated Press news agency quoted her as saying.

Other witnesses described seeing debris - including the plane's wing - falling into the water.

"We saw the helicopter propellers fly all over," said Hoboken resident Katie Tanski.

The helicopter was operated by Liberty Helicopters, a sightseeing company that flies tourists around sites such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

The light plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and was heading to Ocean City in the same state, an aviation official said.

The weather at the time of the collision, noon local time (1600 GMT), was said to be clear and mild.

In January, a passenger plane with 155 people aboard ditched into the Hudson River without loss of life, after apparently hitting a flock of geese.

August 8th, 2009, 04:59 PM
I just took the tour a month ago, and from what I can gather it sounds like it was the plane pilot's fault. The area where they crashed is right next to the heliport itself, so I assume the helicopter was fairly low and in the process of taking off.

I wish they'd release the tail # of the helicopter. There's a 1 in 3 chance it was the one I was in. Wonder if it was the same pilot? :(

August 8th, 2009, 05:17 PM
So sad. My heart goes out to the victims and families. Though, I have a question: Are small planes allowed to fly along the Hudson?

August 8th, 2009, 05:51 PM

There's a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) corridor along the Hudson River. 1500 foot ceiling (I think). Above that altitude, aircraft must be on instrument control.

The VFR aircraft have transponders to identify them on radar, and there is a special radio frequency assigned to the Hudson airspace.

August 8th, 2009, 06:11 PM
While you're on the tour you have headphones and you're able to listen to the various aircraft announce themselves. My pilot did it quite often, but I'm not sure if all pilots are that thorough.

August 9th, 2009, 07:21 AM
August 9, 2009

Deadly End for Groups on 2 Trips of Leisure


At 11:50 a.m. Saturday, Steven M. Altman set off from Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey at the controls of a single-engine Piper airplane for what should have been a routine, short flight to the Jersey Shore. Nearby sat Daniel Altman, his brother and partner in the family’s real estate business, and a teenage boy.

The three had been in the air for only about six minutes when, according to the authorities, Mr. Altman’s Piper slammed into the back of a helicopter that had just taken off from a heliport on the Hudson River, carrying a pilot and five Italian tourists eager to see New York City from the sky.

No one survived the crash.

The helicopter passengers were part of a larger group of about a dozen Italians — a collection of family and friends who lived in the Bologna area — visiting New York City as part of a vacation that was to wrap up on the beaches of Mexico, according to an Italian official and a person familiar with their plans.

On Saturday, all the Italian tourists showed up at the West 30th Street heliport, but only five would take to the air over the Hudson River while the rest waited on the ground. According to a spokesman for the Italian Embassy in Washington, the five who lost their lives in the crash were Tiziana Pedrone, Fabio Gallazzi, Giacomo Gallazzi, Michele Norelli and Filippo Norelli. Two of them were youths and the rest adults, the spokesman, Fabrizio Bucci, said.

The helicopter pilot was Jeremy Clark of Lanoka Harbor, N.J., according to Liberty Helicopters, the tour operator.

All told, nine people died after the two aircraft collided.

The pilot of the airplane, Mr. Altman, 60, was the son of a decorated World War II veteran. Later in life, his father flew more than 200 volunteer flights for a nonprofit group, Angel Flight East, that ferries ill patients, according to the group’s Web site.

Steven Altman lived with his wife, Pamala, in Ambler, Pa., a quiet, upscale suburb about 20 miles north of Philadelphia. Neighbors recalled Mr. Altman as a fit, amiable man who often walked the well-manicured route of his small cul-de-sac, chatting about basketball and the Philadelphia 76ers.

He built a basketball court in his backyard, which he used to keep in shape, said Dawn Kelley, who lives several houses down from the Altman family.

Mr. Altman, a Cornell graduate with a degree in engineering, was the principal of Altman Management Company, a real estate investment firm in Port Washington, Pa., that owns and manages residential properties. Daniel, his brother, was a vice president.

Since 2008, Steven Altman was on the board of directors of the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, which runs several hospitals and medical facilities in the Philadelphia area.

As for the Italian victims, Mr. Bucci said that, according to their passports, they hailed from two different parts of Italy: Some were born in the northeastern part of the country around Bologna, while others were originally from a town not far from Naples called Benevento.

After New York City, the Italian tourists had planned to spend time in Florida before heading to Cancun. The survivors have now changed those plans and intend to return to Italy.

Al Baker and Patrick McGeehan contributed reporting.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

August 9th, 2009, 07:34 AM
Tourist shuns copter ride then takes
amazing pictures of collision above Hudson River

BY Helen Kennedy

Sunday, August 9th 2009, 1:57 AM


A Canadian tourist who balked at paying $150 for a helicopter ride ended up watching the chopper's terrible midair collision through the viewfinder of her camera from the Circle Line.

"We were planning to go on that same helicopter trip, but it was too pricey," said Indra Singh of Ottawa.

"Thank God we canceled that helicopter trip."

Singh, her teenage daughter, Sonia, and her grandson, Shalon, ended up taking a sightseeing cruise instead, she told Fox News.

From the deck of the Circle Line boat, Indra Singh looked up and saw something unusual.

"I saw the helicopter and the plane come very close together," she said.

"I wanted to take one picture with both in the same snap. The next thing I knew, I was taking pictures of the crash."

Singh's striking photos showed the two aircraft, one white and one dark, breaking up against the clear blue sky.

The plane is seen trying to stay aloft with one wing gone. Equally crippled, the chopper is falling into pieces as it falls to earth.

"It seemed the helicopter clipped the plane," Sonia Singh said. "It's hard to say - it happened so quickly."

Circle Line Capt. Ken Corcoran turned to go help and the big tour boat was among the first at the site, soon joined a flotilla of police boats, sailboats, ferries and rafts trying to find survivors.

"We were moments away," said Sonia Singh. "[Passengers] were devastated. Some people were crying."

Shalon said that since it was New York City, he assumed at first it must have been some sort of spectacular special effect for a movie.

"It was pretty difficult to realize the truth," he said.


August 9th, 2009, 11:30 AM
Shalon said that since it was New York City, he assumed at first it must have been some sort of spectacular special effect for a movie.
Somethin' else.

August 9th, 2009, 12:04 PM
After 9/11 how is it that aircraft can fly so low and how can there be airspace that is without guidance? Is all of that anti-terrorism talk a joke?

If these families can sue the city, I hope they do... and big.


"The NTSB has long expressed concern that federal safety oversight of helicopter tours isn't rigorous enough. The Federal Aviation Administration hasn't implemented more than a dozen NTSB recommendations aimed at improving the safety of the tours, called on-demand flight operations.

A report by the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general last month found that 109 people died in accidents involving on-demand flights in 2007 and 2008..."


The newspaper LaRepubblica reports that those 109 people who died, represent 33 accidents involving on-demand flights.



And after this tradegy listen to Bloomberg's genuine a-hole comment:

"Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, asked about federal rules for the corridor, said he did not favor changes in the rules, citing the city’s interests in tourism."


August 9th, 2009, 12:40 PM
Well then. I'm glad I took the tour when I did, because I'm sure the insurance rates are going to increase along with even more flight restrictions.

August 9th, 2009, 12:42 PM
VFR air traffic is common everywhere. If you put it on instrument traffic control, the system would collapse.

The problem is control of the industry.

Liberty Tours used to be much worse. They would fly closer to the shoreline as they swung around the tip of Manhattan. I actually saw this one day two years ago while on the Manhattan Bridge walkway: A helicopter was hovering just north of the Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan tower. It swung up and looped back down. I first thought it was in trouble and the pilot was trying to find a place to land. But it did this maneuver a few times, and I realized it was a photo-op.

Ironically, it was noise complaints (many from my neighborhood), not safety, that led to a tightening of regulations. But it's still pretty crowded.

August 9th, 2009, 07:31 PM
Seems like New York has been mercilessly cursed by seemingly endless tragic disasters since 09-11! :mad:

August 9th, 2009, 08:55 PM
Dwelling on the negative is a choice.

August 10th, 2009, 10:26 AM
It is a bit worrying that there are so many incidents. You tend not to hear of such scenarios in places such as London (where there are some 30mppa more people in the air each year) or Tokyo (helipad crazy) which probably have as busy airspaces.

August 10th, 2009, 10:57 AM
(where there are some 30mppa more people in the air each year) or Tokyo (helipad crazy) which probably have as busy airspaces.You may be correct, but what does that number measure?

Is it what we would call class-A, or controlled, traffic? There's a lot more traffic in the air around here than what is measured out of major airports. Especially since NY, unlike London, is surrounded by water.

August 10th, 2009, 12:17 PM
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer David B. Caruso, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 9, 5:16 pm ET

Pilots are largely free to choose their own route, radioing their position periodically but not communicating regularly with air traffic controllers. Planes often fly as low as 500 feet to get a good look at the Statue of Liberty.

"So, what you have is a lot of helicopters. You've got the sightseeing tours. You have police helicopters. You have the weekend warriors who fly up and down the river," said Justin Green, an aviation attorney and former military pilot who has flown the route.

"All these airplanes are flying 1,000 feet or lower, and a lot of the pilots are up there to see the sights, so they may not be seeing and avoiding things as they should be," he said.

There's the problem, right there. ^

August 10th, 2009, 12:50 PM
Lofter1, I don't like to, and I wish that these things didn't ever happen, but how many senseless and tragic disasters in NY have we heard about since the Day the Giants fell?

August 10th, 2009, 01:06 PM
Hasn't there only been two major ones? The airline that went down in Queens and the Deutche Bank fire.
I hate how the media tries to scare the public. Hundreds of people die every day doing much more common things like driving to work.

It is a bit worrying that there are so many incidents. You tend not to hear of such scenarios in places such as London (where there are some 30mppa more people in the air each year) or Tokyo (helipad crazy) which probably have as busy airspaces.
Please name all these "incidents" that we should be worrying about.

August 10th, 2009, 01:28 PM
Please name all these "incidents" that we should be worrying about.
Well, Derek, there have been fatal crane collapses (more than one), steam pipe explosions under 42nd Street, a crash landing in the Hudson ... How much more do you want?

We should not worry about them ... but they certainly do exist.

August 10th, 2009, 01:34 PM
Lofter1, I don't like to, and I wish that these things didn't ever happen, but how many senseless and tragic disasters in NY have we heard about since the Day the Giants fell?I don't know. How many? Have a list?

The two major ones come to mind. Flight 587 Nov 2001. Crashes in Rockaway after takeoff. Vertical stabilizer problem. Flight 1549 Jan 2009. Bird strike after takeoff, engine failure, ditches in Hudson, no fatalities (a disaster?).

The other one involving VFR airspace I remember is the 4-seater that crashed into the East Side apartment building in 2006, killing Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle.

August 10th, 2009, 01:56 PM
The incidents question was in regards to Nick-Taylor's post about aircraft accidents. There have not been many and this is the only fatal helicopter disaster I can recall. Anyway, though these accidents are unfortunate, New York has the busiest airspace in the world and to not expect a few "incidents" is naive.

I just hate how the media loves to exploit these disasters due to their locations in NYC and timing after 9/11. There are lots more serious things to worry about in NY than a plane falling from the sky.

August 10th, 2009, 02:22 PM
The very talented Comedienne / Rock Musician (Leila and the Snakes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leila_And_The_Snakes)) / Actress / Reporter Jane Dornacker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Dornacker) went down into the Hudson in a helicopter back in 1986 while doing a traffic report for WNBC 660 AM Radio. She was killed, the pilot survived. The NTSB investigation determined the cause of the fatal crash to have been use of improper parts and poor maintenance.

August 10th, 2009, 03:21 PM
The other one involving VFR airspace I remember is the 4-seater that crashed into the East Side apartment building in 2006, killing Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle.

I was asking around about that one. No-one seemed to remember.

Seems kind of odd that the prop planes are restricted to a certain height like that. Maybe a set of layers is needed, like "air lanes".

Thru Traffic needs to be between 1000 and 1400 feet, touring helecopters restricted (aside from takeoff) to 500-1000, and under 500 belonging to news helecopters, police helecopters, or take off/landing.....


August 10th, 2009, 03:42 PM
Two helicopters went down near the Wall Street pad in 05.

August 10th, 2009, 04:58 PM
I don't know. How many? Have a list?

The two major ones come to mind. Flight 587 Nov 2001. Crashes in Rockaway after takeoff. Vertical stabilizer problem. Flight 1549 Jan 2009. Bird strike after takeoff, engine failure, ditches in Hudson, no fatalities (a disaster?).

The other one involving VFR airspace I remember is the 4-seater that crashed into the East Side apartment building in 2006, killing Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle.

1. Let's also not forget the commuter one that crashed near Buufalo. There were no survivors. Ice on the wings is the suspected culprit. A 09-11 widow on the plane was also killed (Her husband was on Flight 11).

2. Also, of course the two firfighters who died at the DBB 3 summers ago.

3. The crazed nut job who gained access into Ground Zero, then shot & killed himself over a fight & divorce with his wife in Seattle.

4. The constrution worker who accidentally fell from the 21st floor down an elevator shaft died when 7 WTC was u/c.

5. The pilot who accidentally flew his small plane into an apartment building in '06, yes, that WAS Corey Lidle, trying to make a left turn in the air, killing himself.

6. A woman who survived the terror attacks when the Twins fell, later died from cancer believed to have been caused by the toxic fumes when the towers fell.

7. A German Shephard dog who worked at Ground Zero during the recovery effort had died, possibly from cancer believed to have been caused by the toxic fumes from the fallen towers.

8. Several recovery-effort workers who also worked at GZ during the cleanup later died from cancer believed to have been caused by the toxic fumes when the towers fell.

9. And if you want to go back even further, 8 workers died during the construction of the Twins and the 6 people who died from the 1st terror attack on the original WTC. :(

10. Also, the low-flying Air Force One over the city, but no one was hurt or killed in that one.

August 10th, 2009, 06:01 PM
1. So now it's the entire state?

2. That's one.

3. Although NYC is considered safe, we have averaged at least one homicide per day for a long time. Doesn't qualify as "cursed by seemingly endless tragic disasters."

4. People get hurt and die in work related accidents all over the city.

5. That's two.

6. Tragic, but not a disaster.

7. Ditto.

8. Ditto.

9. I'm sure this weighs on the city psyche.

10. What?

August 10th, 2009, 06:09 PM
10. What?
Well, that one's in Technicolor.

August 10th, 2009, 06:12 PM
Seems kind of odd that the prop planes are restricted to a certain height like that. Maybe a set of layers is needed, like "air lanes".The planes aren't restricted; the pilots are.

If they want to fly at a higher altitude, it must be by IFR.

I wonder how those planes that fly along Rockaway Beach trailing ad banners get through the runway approach corridor for JFK. It's controlled airspace.

Can they fly under it? Or do they have to detour away from the coast?

August 10th, 2009, 07:20 PM
1. Let's also not forget the commuter one that crashed near Buufalo. There were no survivors. Ice on the wings is the suspected culprit. A 09-11 widow on the plane was also killed (Her husband was on Flight 11).

So just because someone who had something to do with 9/11 was on the plane means this is all connected to NYC having bad luck since 9/11? Please do us a favor and look up the phrase "correlation does not imply causation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation)."

Also, you need to take a deep breath and relax. Or have a shot of whiskey -- whatever you prefer (I'll take the whiskey:)). Just stop acting like everything is some big interrelated NYC tragedy, because IT ISN'T.

Maybe you should stop reading the news for a while. It seems to bum you out more than the average joe.

August 11th, 2009, 12:05 AM
August 11, 2009

Officials Demand Tighter Control,
or Even a Ban, of Hudson Air Traffic


A half-dozen elected officials lined up along the Hudson River on Monday and called for changes in how the airspace above the river is controlled in the aftermath of Saturday’s fatal collision of a plane and helicopter.

One called for banning all air traffic along the corridor if the federal authorities did not have the technology or manpower to monitor and manage it; another called for requiring all aircraft to have crash avoidance technology. Even Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a pilot and the man in charge of safeguarding the city’s residents and its economy, said at a later news briefing that he would welcome responsible changes in the oversight of the air corridor.

“Amateur hour in the sky is over,” said the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer.

Hours later, Deborah A. P. Hersman, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating Saturday’s crash, said the safety board had made dozens of recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration and the touring helicopter industry about improving safety in unrestricted airspace and in the air tour industry, many of which were not acted on.

She cited no specific recommendations, and did not say whether any of them might have had relevance to the crash on Saturday, the cause of which is far from determined. But she did seem to express some frustration.

“We believe that if those recommendations were to be implemented, aviation safety would be improved,” she said at a news briefing in Hoboken, N.J. “I think the fact that we are here today shows that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

But interviews with aviation experts raised questions about the relevance and practicality of many of the initial suggestions made by the local elected officials.

The F.A.A. has neither the equipment nor personnel to manage the traffic that flies in the unrestricted space up to 1,100 feet above the Hudson in a way that would meaningfully limit accidents, said Barrett Byrnes, who retired last year as a controller at the Kennedy International Airport tower.

“The problem is the tall buildings,” Mr. Byrnes said, saying the structures block radar signals so air traffic controllers cannot see the aircraft to keep them separated. “These airplanes are at 400 or 500 feet, and the buildings are getting in the way.”

In addition, he and others said, there are nowhere near enough controllers to handle the “weekend warriors,” private pilots who turn up on weekends all year long for a jaunt or a sightseeing trip.

Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat who represents the West Side of Manhattan, dismissed those assertions.

Another idea floated again over the last two days would be to slice the airspace horizontally and reserve the lower altitudes for helicopters. That might help, experts said, but sometimes helicopters have to climb to higher altitudes to reach their destinations.

The planes and helicopters, others have suggested, might be forced to fly during designated times of day and separate from each other. But Peter Goelz, a former managing director at the transportation safety board, said each change could create unintended consequences.

“Let’s say you limit the hours that fixed-wing planes can utilize the space,” Mr. Goelz said. “Does that mean that the remaining open hours become more crowded because you have cut off four or five hours a day of usage? Does that mean you will have, instead of six planes per hour, 18 planes per hour?”

Some experts say it is not yet clear that there is any particular problem with the Hudson corridor, despite the crash that left nine dead on Saturday. In most years, there are a handful of midair collisions nationwide among general aviation aircraft; at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a group that lobbies for the rights of plane owners, Chris Dancy, a spokesman, said the most recent such collision in the group’s records for the Hudson was in 1963.

In the waters of the Hudson River on Monday, poor visibility and treacherous currents hampered efforts to recover the two remaining bodies and the plane from the crash. Divers located a man’s body in the wreckage of the airplane, but were unable to dislodge it, said Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman. The plane, in the middle of the river, about 60 feet below the surface, was secured and marked with buoys.

The bodies of seven victims have been recovered, and autopsies on those victims showed that they died of blunt impact injuries of the head, torso and extremities, a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner’s office said.

Part of the debate about future management of the air involves emerging technology that could provide pilots with a “moving map” that showed the location over the ground of their aircraft and all others in the area. But most private planes are flown by a single person, who may have trouble switching rapidly from looking at a screen to looking out the window. Workload, in fact, may be an issue in this crash; the fixed-wing plane completed a turn and was told to check in by radio with the tower at Newark Liberty International Airport, but failed to do so. It is not uncommon for busy pilots to have misheard or forgotten the proper frequency or incorrectly tuned the radio.

A former air traffic control official from the F.A.A., who asked to remain anonymous because his current employer, in the aerospace field, forbids him to be quoted by name, said that a wiser course would be to wait for the safety board to make its findings and “see if the facts relate to procedures or airspace rules.”

That official added that while pilots in the Hudson corridor, as in similar corridors in major cities around the country, were responsible for separating themselves, that did not mean there were no rules. Generally in the Hudson, fixed-wing planes stay higher and helicopters lower, and everyone keeps to the right, like on a street, even if there is no line down the middle.

“Density doesn’t necessarily drive risk,” he said.

At the F.A.A., Laura J. Brown, a spokeswoman, said that while the space was not controlled, it was “organized,” with pilots announcing their location and their intentions on a common radio frequency. But the use of that radio frequency is voluntary.

Katharina Rolke, a helicopter pilot and chief of operations for Zip Aviation, which operates on Manhattan’s West Side, said the voluntary system was often ignored by plane pilots.

“It’s very rare they announce themselves,” she said.

If the corridor were closed to general aviation traffic, Ms. Brown and others said that such planes would have to make wide detours. To go from, say, Hartford to the Jersey Shore would require either flying far out over the water, which is not considered prudent in a single-engine, piston-driven airplane, or swinging around to the west, toward Pennsylvania.

Some elected officials said that pilots should be required to file a flight plan. But for small planes, the main function of a flight plan, according to aviation officials, is to let searchers know where to look for wreckage if the plane does not reach its destination.

Simon Akam and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

August 11th, 2009, 12:18 AM
August 11, 2009

Collision Revives Debate Over Whether
Copter Tours Are Worth the Cost


The fatal collision between a small plane and a helicopter filled with tourists over the Hudson River has revived questions about just how much the city gains from the sightseeing tours, and whether those benefits outweigh concerns about safety and noise.

The Bloomberg administration has dismissed calls for a ban on helicopter excursions in New York City, suggesting that they contribute significantly to the local economy. After the crash on Saturday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg reiterated that the city has “commercial interests” in keeping the tourist flights going.

But city officials struggled on Monday to come up with the numbers to strongly support that position. The city’s Economic Development Corporation estimated about 300,000 tourists took helicopter trips last year. They could not say what economic impact those tours had, but estimated that the revenue for all unscheduled air transportation, including corporate charters, was about $290 million.

That would amount to a tiny fraction of the city’s overall economic output, which is estimated to exceed $400 billion annually. And the sightseeing helicopter business is expected to shrink over the next few years, as it is gradually pushed out of the heliport at West 30th Street.

The heliport, which was the takeoff point for the helicopter involved in the crash, is phasing out sightseeing flights as part of a lawsuit settlement. The number of excursions, which had exceeded 20,000 a year, will be limited to 12,500 during the 10-month period that ends March 31, 2010. After that, the heliport will be used only for corporate charters and emergency flights.

The Economic Development Corporation has cleared the way for the excursion operators to move from West 30th Street to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.

It is managed by a small company called FirstFlight, which plans to install fuel pumps so that sightseeing flights can operate throughout the day. One of the directors of FirstFlight, Alvin S. Trenk, is an owner of Liberty Helicopters, which operated the flight involved in the collision.

Mr. Trenk did not respond to requests for comment. His representatives at Rubenstein Communications declined to comment.

Jeffery Smith, the chairman of the Eastern Region Helicopter Council, said helicopter tour operators “support the No. 2 industry in New York City, and that is tourism.” Mr. Smith said he could not provide any statistics on total revenue or taxes paid by the industry, but he said they were impressive.

Critics of the helicopter services disputed that claim. Albert K. Butzel was president of the Friends of Hudson River Park when that group sued the operator of the West Side heliport. Last year, the suit was settled with an agreement by the operator, Air Pegasus, to limit the number of flights this year and end them next spring. Mr. Trenk also controls Air Pegasus.

“I think the mayor’s way off base,” Mr. Butzel said. “If there were no helicopter tourist flights, almost certainly that tourist would spend their money on something else.”

Ten years ago, the Giuliani administration estimated that the annual economic activity generated by the city’s sightseeing helicopter business was about $60 million. But that was not enough to dissuade Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani from his plan to shut them down.

In 1997, the city banned sightseeing flights from the city-owned heliport at the east end of 34th Street. Two years later, it urged that the West Side heliport be closed and that excursion companies be prevented from moving to the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. The objective was to reduce noise more than to prevent accidents.

Joy Held, the president of the Helicopter Noise Coalition, has been calling for a ban on “frivolous” flights over the city for more than a decade. She and other critics helped persuade Mr. Giuliani that the costs of the excursions to residents — the annoyance, broken concentration and lost sleep — outweighed the benefits.

Even then, Ms. Held said, she believed that city officials had inflated the industry’s contribution to the economy. The numbers were “bogus,” she said.

Mr. Bloomberg reversed the course Mr. Giuliani had charted, Ms. Held said, because he favored business and had flown helicopters himself. “He is pushing economic development,” she said, “at the price of the ability of people to live and work in peace.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

August 11th, 2009, 03:02 AM
Definitely no knee-jerk reactions here! Although some of them do seem determined to shut the helicopter tours down completely.

I must argue with the Mr. Butzel in the article, though. I would not have spent the $$$ I spent on the helicopter ride for my father and I elsewhere in NYC. It would have gone to rent or booze here in North Dakota. I chose to ride a helicopter in the Big Apple because it's something a person doesn't do that often, especially when you live in the middle of nowhere.

August 11th, 2009, 03:59 AM
It would be interesting to know how many close calls there are out of all flights. I don't think a ban on all traffic will happen, its also pointless. This crash unless, there was a mechanical problem, seems to be down to pilot error. He didn't crash because the air was crowded.

August 11th, 2009, 06:04 PM
What about the security aspect?

Why do we have to take our shoes off at the airport, while anyone with a pilot's license can zoom up the rivers?

August 11th, 2009, 06:11 PM
Obviously the damage a light aircraft can do is very limited compared with an airliner.

August 11th, 2009, 06:44 PM
Comparative damage wasn't the point.

It was this. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_theater)

We have barriers and checkpoints, where security guard have kittens if you take a photo anywhere near them. But the air-space over the rivers is (pardon the pun) off the radar?

Pack a small plane with high explosives and crash it into a power plant, or maybe chlorine tanks in New Jersey - plenty of damage.

August 11th, 2009, 07:08 PM
Lots of places where that type of adventure would create damage and chaos. No need to fly up a river to accomplish such deeds.

btw: Whatever came of those aviation schools (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A10840-2001Sep22) who improperly enrolled trainees back in the day?

August 11th, 2009, 07:10 PM
I don't mean flying up river. That just happens to be where it's allowed.

It's no control over who's flying.

August 11th, 2009, 07:15 PM
No doubt some would claim that's protected by one Amendment or another.

August 12th, 2009, 05:56 AM
Unfazed by helicopter collision above Hudson, tourists take to air to see city's sights

BY Matthew Lysiak

August 12th 2009

Dutch tourists Jan Veldman and son Max, 11, about to board a Liberty Helicopter Tours helicopter.

Foreign tourists lined up early to be the first in the air Tuesday as Liberty Helicopters resumed flights over the Hudson, where divers were still pulling up wreckage.

"I'm not afraid to get on the helicopter. The only way to see New York City is from above," said Jan Veldman, 45, of Holland, visiting the city for the first time with 11-year-old son, Max.

"Besides, I don't think there is a safer day to fly over the Hudson."

They arrived at Liberty Helicopters' 30th St. helipad an hour before the 9 a.m. opening to be first in line to buy tickets.

Inside the ticket office, where the walls are lined with pictures of pilots, the mood was somber.

"We are just focused on having a safe flight," a manager told the Daily News.

Ten blocks away in the line to visit the Empire State Building, other tourists said they wouldn't think of flying so soon after Saturday's crash.

"It's just too soon right now," said Italian tourist Leo Kucio, 34.

"It's morbid. The helicopter will be going right over the search boats. That's not good. They should wait at least until the bodies are all out of the water."

Still, nothing could dampen the excitement of young Max, who climbed onto a chair to peer out a window as his father purchased the 20-minute Big Apple tour package for $180.

"That's our helicopter," Max crowed excitedly, pointing at the chopper waiting on the pad.

The Veldmans were joined on the day's first flight by Briton Richard Bertram, 52, his wife, Janice, 54, and their daughter, Cori, 11.

"I feel very safe," Bertram said. "Accidents happen all the time. We fly all over the world. Are we now going to stop crossing the street because we might get hit by a car?"

At 9:11 a.m., the helicopter pilot shook hands with his five passengers, gave a thumbs up to a worker on the ground, and lifted up over the Hudson.

The regular route took the tourists over rescue crews still trying to recover the plane and the last two victims of Saturday's collision between a small plane and a Liberty chopper.

The helicopter landed at 9:35 a.m. The pilot was smiling as two employees greeted him.

By then, another 18 people had joined the line for a tour.

"It's nice to see all the people coming. It's a return to normalcy," a Liberty employee said.

The families disembarked chattering excitedly.

"It was fantastic. Absolutely awesome! It was magic," said Janice Bertram, who said it was the best part of the family's trip.

"I loved it. Not even a little scary. What a view! I took lots of pictures," said Cori.

Later, Mayor Bloomberg said helicopter tours should continue.

"There's no reason why having helicopter tours shouldn't be safe," he said. "A tragic accident happened and nine people died. But I certainly don't think that we should ban them."

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/08/12/2009-08-12_unfazed_by_collision_tourists_take_to_air_to_se e_citys_sights.html

August 14th, 2009, 01:21 PM
Flight controllers suspended over NY midair collision

(AFP) – 2 hours ago

NEW YORK — An air traffic controller has been suspended, along with a supervisor, for chatting on the telephone during a fatal collision between a helicopter and a small airplane over New York last weekend, authorities said Friday.

"We learned that the controller handling the Piper flight was involved in apparently inappropriate conversations on the telephone at the time of the accident," the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said in a statement.

The controller and the supervisor, who broke the rules by being absent from the building, have been placed on administrative leave, the statement said.

The FAA said it had "no reason to believe at this time that these actions contributed to the accident."

However, "this kind of conduct is unacceptable."

Nine people, including five Italian tourists, died August 8 when a sight-seeing helicopter collided with a Piper single-engine private aircraft over the Hudson River.

It was the first fatal crash in the highly congested New York airspace since October 11, 2006, when two people died after flying a light plane into a skyscraper on Manhattan.

In January an Airbus jet operated by US Airways lost power shortly after take-off and crash landed in the Hudson without loss of life.

Copyright © 2009 AFP.

Video of collision (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_-WlKy2r54)

August 14th, 2009, 03:13 PM
Of all the times to be breaking the rules (even though they had, so we are to believe, no impact on the events of the day).

I feel a bit sorry for these guys.....

August 14th, 2009, 04:47 PM
Bunch of BS - there's no one to blame who's still alive, so they sacrifice a bunch of guys who even theoretically had no power to stop this accident.

The ancient Israelites had the right idea. Something goes wrong that you can't pin on somebody? Blame God, kill a goat, and move on with your life...

August 14th, 2009, 05:50 PM
Yeah, hell, seems yakking on the phone to your sweetheart wouldn't get in the way of doing any job I can think of.

Who can't do two things at once?

All these rules. People should be freed up to do things as they see fit. Let the cards fall where they may.

August 14th, 2009, 05:59 PM
So the pilot didn't see the helicopter filling his windscreen because of some flight controllers? And I though that part of the airspace wasn't controlled anyway?

August 14th, 2009, 06:15 PM
Not "controlled" but covered by controllers -- and apparently, from the latest reports (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/nyregion/14crash.html?ref=nyregion), folks all around weren't paying the attention demanded.

August 14th, 2009, 06:20 PM
There's a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) corridor along the Hudson River. 1500 foot ceiling (I think). Above that altitude, aircraft must be on instrument control.

Would it be correct to assume this means the pilot is responsible for looking after the position of the aircraft in relation to other aircraft? If so it doesn't matter what the controllers were doing.

August 14th, 2009, 10:07 PM
It's best to wait for the NTSB investigation.

The Hudson corridor is uncontrolled, so certain procedures and visual rules are the responsibility of the pilot. The controller doesn't assign slots in the airspace to all the aircraft and keep them safely separated. But the aircraft are handed off into this space from class-B airspace, which is controlled. In the case of the airplane, it was Teterboro.

The tour helicopters are already within the Hudson corridor.

US airspace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airspace_class_%28United_States%29) is divided into lettered classes. Class-A space is like a high altitude expressway.

Class-B space is the most restrictive that goes to ground level. The tiered "upside down wedding cake" that sits over the airports is a good description.

Philip Greenspun (http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2009/08/09/hudson-river-mid-air-collision/), a pilot who operates tours in Boston and has experience with the Hudson corridor, provides a good analysis. He focuses on the point of entry to the Hudson from Teterboro control (see the NYTimes graphic).

August 28th, 2009, 05:13 AM
August 28, 2009

Separate Altitudes Suggested for Flights Over Hudson


The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending major changes to air traffic over the Hudson River — including having helicopters and planes fly at separate altitudes — to prevent another midair collision like the one that killed nine people on Aug. 8.

The board is also recommending that pilots who are to fly in the Hudson River air corridor and around the Statue of Liberty complete a special training course.

The board is probably months away from a final report about the accident this month, in which a single-engine plane collided with a tour helicopter during a flight in a low-altitude area that is not under the direction of air traffic controllers. The main responsibility for avoiding collisions in the area rests with the pilots themselves, who are supposed to look out the window for other traffic.

The safety board’s call for changes was made on Thursday in a 10-page letter to the Federal Aviation Administration administrator, J. Randolph Babbitt. The board, a purely advisory agency, usually makes recommendations after concluding its investigations, but does so sooner if it finds that there is a clear case for action to improve safety.

The board’s letter came shortly before a report on the same subject was expected from a special panel convened by the aviation administration, which actually regulates the pilots and the airspace. Agency officials sometimes complain that the safety board likes to time its recommendations to beat others to the punch.

The chairwoman of the safety board, Deborah A. P. Hersman, said in a statement on Thursday that the current procedures for flying in the Hudson air corridor are “not enough.”

“Our recommendations suggest operational changes that can make this corridor a safer place to fly,” she said.

In response, Laura J. Brown, an F.A.A. spokeswoman in Washington, noted that the agency had convened a panel on Aug. 17 to study operational issues in two air corridors over New York City: the one over the Hudson River and another over the East River. She said the panel, which includes air traffic and safety experts from the aviation agency, experienced air traffic controllers and a member of the union that represents the controllers, is expected to present its report to Mr. Babbitt Friday.

“They are looking at all these issues, and we won’t have any comment on the N.T.S.B.’s recommendations until we have a chance to look at the recommendations of our own working group,” Ms. Brown said.

The crash spurred an outcry by New York politicians over the airspace, a corridor between Governors Island and the George Washington Bridge, 1,100 feet and below, which one politician referred to as the Wild West.

Among the board’s recommendations is one that would require that planes intending to re-enter airspace that is under the direction of controllers be cleared to do so as soon as traffic permits. Another would require that pilots in the area be advised to listen to an established common radio frequency to announce their position and listen for other traffic. Currently, some pilots — possibly including the one involved in the crash on Aug. 8 — listen to air traffic controllers instead. The board’s letter said that the pilot of the airplane had asked controllers to watch him on radar and warn him of other traffic — a service known as flight-following that is provided when controllers are able.

The board’s letter said that using a common frequency “would have required the pilot to be actively transmitting and receiving on two different radios at the same time,” which it said was especially hard in a busy environment like New York City’s. Still, it said, listening in on that common frequency is a “fundamental component” of safety procedures in the area.

The safety board has not yet determined what frequency the airplane’s pilot was monitoring on Aug. 8. Since he was told by a controller at Teterboro to check in with the controller at Newark Liberty International Airport and acknowledged that instruction, but never actually did so, one possibility is that he tuned in to some other, inappropriate frequency.

The board has also not determined the significance of a “nonbusiness” phone call placed by the Teterboro controller after he cleared the plane for take-off. But it said Thursday that the absence of a supervisor from the tower at the time of the crash had allowed the controller to make the call, and slowed up emergency notifications afterward.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

September 3rd, 2009, 10:26 AM
September 3, 2009

F.A.A. Plans Changes in Hudson Flight Rules


The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that it would issue new rules governing how airplanes, helicopters and other touring and official aircraft operate in the congested air corridor above the Hudson River.

Administration officials said the agency would also develop new training programs for pilots, air-traffic controllers and the tourist helicopter operators that use the corridor. And, for the largest part of the airspace, the agency said it would set limits for how fast the aircraft may fly and would require that every pilot in that airspace be tuned to the same radio channel — protocols that are now voluntary.

“These steps will significantly enhance safety in this busy area and create crystal-clear rules for all of the pilots who operate there,” the agency’s administrator, J. Randolph Babbitt, said in a statement outlining the changes.

The steps were recommended by a special panel convened by the aviation agency after a midair collision on Aug. 8 in which a single-engine plane collided with a touring helicopter over the river. The accident killed nine people, including a group of tourists from Italy.

The agency’s action is an effort to refine the regulations governing a congested airspace that one elected official has referred to as the Wild West.

A week earlier, the National Transportation Safety Board — an advisory body that has the lead role in investigating the crash but lacks the authority to order changes — issued its own set of recommendations, which are, by some measures, fundamentally different from the aviation agency’s proposals.

A spokeswoman for the safety board said Wednesday that it would look more carefully at the proposed changes in the days ahead.

Though the aviation agency’s proposals have to pass through a rulemaking process in Washington, including being subject to public comment, the agency will expedite the process and expects to have all of the changes in place by Nov. 19, said Laura J. Brown, an aviation agency spokeswoman.

Even as the proposed changes were made public, United States Representative Jerrold Nadler, who represents the West Side of Manhattan, released a statement calling them “fundamentally inadequate.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer also said he was not happy with the proposed changes. “The F.A.A. took a first step, but more has to be done,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement, citing the fact that under the proposals, controllers would not monitor planes below 1,000 feet. “We urge the F.A.A. to go back to the drawing board and put in the necessary additions to keep the corridor safe.”

An aide to Mr. Nadler said he and other lawmakers from New York and New Jersey had advanced a variety of ideas that the aviation agency had ignored. Primarily, Mr. Nadler was pushing to require all planes flying in the corridor to have a cockpit device that warns when another aircraft is too close, said the aide, Robert M. Gottheim.

“It is not something that you have to actively go on a radio for, but technology allows the system to operate automatically,” Mr. Gottheim said. “It would greatly diminish human error.”

The proposals put forward by the aviation agency deal with the finer points of flying aircraft through some of the most complicated airspace in the nation. At the core, the changes would create space for pilots who want to pass quickly through the area while avoiding the zigzagging planes or helicopters hoping to linger in the area for sightseeing.

Under the new configuration, a general aviation pilot could fly in a newly designated corridor above other general aviation traffic, yet be under the direction of air traffic controllers, a slight variation from current practice.

A second altitude corridor, from 1,000 to 1,300 feet, would be for planes to fly above other traffic but use, as a main means of avoiding collision, a technique called “see and avoid” — basically, meaning that pilots look out their windows to spot other aircraft.

A third airspace would be created for all aircraft operating under 1,000 feet, Ms. Brown said.

In the two lower-altitude corridors, the rules that would become mandatory include: Requiring pilots to tune their radio to a frequency of 123.05, known as the common traffic advisory frequency, and to announce their description, location, direction and altitude when entering the area; requiring southbound planes and copters to hug the New Jersey coastline and northbound ones to hew closely to the West Side of Manhattan; setting speeds at 140 knots or less for all aircraft; and requiring pilots to turn on anti-collision devices, navigation equipment and landing lights.

Any pilots of fixed-wing airplanes leaving Teterboro Airport, in New Jersey, would have to enter the uncontrolled air corridor via a special route over the George Washington Bridge. If those pilots desired to fly into controlled airspace, the controllers at Teterboro would have to gain approval from their counterparts at Newark Liberty International Airport before takeoff.

As for the training programs the aviation agency said it intends to develop, Ms. Brown said they would be added to pilots’ routine training but would not be mandatory for all pilots.

“We are requiring that if you operate in that airspace, you know the rules,” Ms. Brown said, adding, “There will be multiple ways that pilots can learn the rules.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

September 17th, 2009, 06:29 AM
Wrong frequency contributed to the Hudson River air disaster: Officials

by Leo Standora

September 17th 2009


The pilot that collided with a helicopter over the Hudson River last month read back a wrong radio frequency to his air-traffic controller, who never corrected it, officials said Wednesday.

Less than a minute later, the single-engine Piper hit the chopper, sending both plummeting into the river, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman told a congressional committee.

Three people aboard the plane and a pilot and five Italian tourists on the copter were killed.

Hersman said that just after the Piper took off from Teterboro Airport, the controller handed it off to nearby Newark Airport.

During the handoff, the controller instructed the pilot to contact Newark and gave him the radio frequency, but the frequency the pilot read back was incorrect. There is no indication any controller heard the incorrect readback or attempted to correct it.

Hersman said Newark controllers saw the plane was heading toward the copter and called the Teterboro controller to redirect the plane. The Teterboro controller twice tried unsuccessfully to contact the pilot.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/09/17/2009-09-17_another_goof_in_the_hudson_river_air_disaster.h tml

November 29th, 2009, 08:11 AM
September 3, 2009

F.A.A. Plans Changes in Hudson Flight Rules

Washington Headquarters Press Release

For Immediate Release

November 16, 2009
Contact: Laura Brown
Phone: (202) 267-3455

FAA Finalizes Changes in Hudson River Airspace to Enhance Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today finalized a federal rule, effective November 19, 2009, that will enhance safety by separating low-altitude, local aircraft flights over the Hudson River from flights transiting through the river airspace.

“Better separation of aircraft means a higher margin of safety,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These new rules will ensure that aircraft can operate safely in the busy Hudson River airspace.”

"These changes will define separate corridors for aircraft operating locally and those flying along the Hudson River area," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "Separating aircraft on different missions and improving pilot situational awareness will add more layers of safety to this high-demand airspace."

The rule also now requires pilots to follow safety procedures that were previously recommended, but were not mandatory. In a new Special Flight Rules Area over the Hudson and East Rivers, pilots must:

Maintain a speed of 140 knots or less.
Turn on anti-collision and aircraft position/navigation lights, if equipped.
Self-announce their position on specific radio frequencies.
Carry current charts for the airspace and be familiar with them.
In an exclusion zone below 1,300 feet over the Hudson River, pilots must announce their aircraft type, position, direction and altitude at charted mandatory reporting points and must stay along the New Jersey shoreline when southbound and along the Manhattan shoreline when northbound.
Pilots transiting the Hudson River must fly at an altitude between 1,000 feet and 1,300 feet. Local flights will operate in the lower airspace below 1,000 feet.

The rule also will incorporate provisions of an October 2006 Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricted fixed-wing aircraft in the exclusion zone over the East River to seaplanes landing or taking off on the river or those specifically approved by FAA air traffic control.

All three updated pilot charts that local fixed wing and helicopter pilots use for navigation will include these airspace changes on November 19, 2009.

The FAA will conduct seminars and coordinate with pilot groups to make pilots aware of the new requirements. The FAA also has developed an online training program that covers flight operations in the New York area.

Current Hudson River Airspace Operations (http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/media/current_hudson_river_airspace_operations.pdf)
New Hudson River Airspace Operations (http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/media/new_hudson_river_airspace_operations.pdf) (Effective Nov. 19, 2009)
Online Training Program (http://www.faasafety.gov/gslac/ALC/course_catalog.aspx)
U.S. Department of Transportation (http://www.dot.gov/)
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
1-866-TELL-FAA (1-866-835-5322)