Today a small engine plane and a helicopter collided in mid air over the Hudson.
Following the mantra that lightening never strikes twice, and considering the incident back in January where ‘Sully’ landed the Airbus A320 in the water, I would have thought that the Hudson would be a real safe place to fly a plane for at least the next few years. Of course I would have been wrong had I been putting any thought into that. I wasn’t thinking about that though because I had other things on my mind, aside from FAA regulations over the Hudson. I can definitively say that I wasn’t the only one.
Immediately I asked myself, “How does this happen?”. Terrorism immediately seems far more likely than stupidity, but this really doesn’t have any of the earmarks representing a terrorist attack. If this is the best the terrorists had for today, then it would be definitive proof that we are winning the war. It probably wasn’t though.
In an interview, Bloomberg was asked by a reporter, “Can you, as a pilot describe the airspace and how aircraft indeed have to navigate it.”
Bloombergs answer consisted of a few key statements that stood out to me.
There is a corridor here where aircraft can fly uncontrolled by air traffic.
There is a common frequency used on the Hudson river.
Pilots that fly in this area all the time pretty much always use those frequencies to announce where they are.
Helicopter pilots pretty much always describe where they are, what altitude they are and which direction they are going.
There's no requirement that they do that although common sense says, and the maps do show what those frequencies are.
The term that caught my attention was “pretty much”. The first time he used it, I saw his face cringe a little. The second time he said it, he used it with authority. No looking back.
Basically, to sum up his response, he said that there is no FAA control over the Hudson River airspace, nor is there any controll over the East River airspace. He did note that there is regulation of the airspace requiring airplanes not to go near buildings, but he didn’t mention the governing body responsible for enforcing the requirements that do exist.
To me, this sounds like the helicopters are flying somewhat ‘willy nilly’ over the Hudson, and are required to provide their own communication between pilots. As for airplanes, this particular plane took off from a NJ airport roughly 7 miles west of Manhattan. The airplane was flying south to Ocean City New Jersy. I’m not a pilot, but I don’t see why the airplane would have needed to fly over the hudson at all.
Bloomberg Interview obtained through FoxNews.com