Friday, August 14, 2009

FAA: Group to review NYC airspace operating procedures

FAA logoToday the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it had convened a New York Airspace Working Group to review current operating procedures over the Hudson and East Rivers. The group will recommend safety improvements in two weeks to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

According to a press release issued by the agency, FAA air traffic and safety experts will review and analyze a variety of proposals to change the operating procedures in the Visual Flight Rules corridors over the two rivers. Both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters currently operate in the same airspace at or below 1,100 feet.

“We strongly encourage pilots to use standard practices in that area now, but it may make sense to require them,” Babbitt said. “We’ve heard a lot of other good ideas about improving safety there and I’m looking for a quick, but thorough review by the safety experts.”

The group will solicit comments from helicopter and aircraft operators and will review air traffic and pilot procedures before making its report to Babbitt on August 28.

In the meantime, Babbitt urged all pilots who operate in the area to follow the procedures outlined in a Notice to Airmen the FAA issued on August 11. The NOTAM advises pilots who fly in the airspace over the two rivers to turn on their lights, use special radio frequencies, announce when they enter the airspace and fly at 140 knots or less.