NTSB’s Hudson River recommendations need ‘careful consideration’

August 28, 2009

The NTSB on Aug. 27 released recommendations to improve safety in the Hudson River Class B exclusion area, based on its ongoing investigation of the Aug. 8 accident between a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter and a Piper PA-32R-300 that killed nine people.

“The NTSB’s recommendations for enhancing safety in the Hudson River exclusion zone deserve careful consideration as the aviation community weighs its best course of action,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president and assistant to the president.

AOPA urges all involved to wait for the FAA working group’s safety recommendations, which are expected soon, and compare the two sets of suggested safety enhancements in order to determine the best course of action. The FAA created a working group Aug. 14 to study the airspace and traffic procedures and make safety recommendations.

The NTSB recommended that the FAA “revise standard operating ATC procedures for the Hudson River Class B exclusion area,” brief ATC controllers and supervisors about the accident, and emphasize controllers’ need to remain attentive while on duty.

Additionally, the NTSB recommended that the FAA create a special flight rules area (SFRA) for the exclusion area and require pilots to complete special training before flying within the area. The NTSB also proposed that vertical separation be required between helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft flying in the SFRA.

Lastly, the board suggested that the FAA review airspace configurations and identify areas in which additional pilot training and airspace familiarization would enhance safety.