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EAA, AOPA Urge Restraint Until Official Reports Issued on Hudson Mid-Air

August 17, 2009 — A letter from EAA and AOPA to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt discourages any rash reactions to the tragic mid-air collision between a small airplane and a sightseeing helicopter in New York City’s Hudson River corridor August 8, which claimed nine lives.

“Acting precipitously, without all the facts, may have unintended consequences while failing to improve safety or prevent future problems,” reads the letter signed by EAA President and Chairman Tom Poberezny and AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller.

The days since that crash have heard calls for a variety actions from lawmakers, the media, and the general public - raging from closing down the airspace, requiring new equipment on aircraft, imposing new altitude requirements for transiting aircraft, and other measures.

The voice of reason has come from New York Mayor and private pilot Michael Bloomberg, who urges patience until the NTSB and FAA complete their investigations. The two organizations, representing more than a half-million members of the aviation community, concur. “To take action in the absence of the facts could cause more problems than it resolves,” the letter reads.

EAA and AOPA especially take issue with the various descriptions of the corridor as the “Wild West,” citing that hundreds of aircraft safely traverse the Hudson River Corridor each day and no other mid-air accidents have taken place in the corridor in nearly 50 years.

Working Group convened
Late last week, the FAA announced it had convened a New York Airspace Working Group to review the current operating procedures over the Hudson and East rivers and make recommendations to Administrator Babbitt in two weeks.

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.

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