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Zone Split: FAA Breaks Up Hudson Airspace

By Staff Writer | December 1, 2009
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Commercial | Air Traffic Control

New FAA rules governing the airspace over the Hudson and East rivers around New York City went into effect on Nov. 19. The agency created an exclusionary zone to separate helicopters and seaplanes from aircraft flying over the rivers. The airspace changes come two months after an Aug. 8 midair collision involving a Eurocopter AS350B2 and a Piper PA32 over the Hudson. Nine people died in the incident.

Graphics Courtesy of FAA


Under the new regulations, visual flight rules (VFR) aircraft operating under air traffic control (ATC) are required to fly above 1,300 feet. Uncontrolled aircraft using VFR operate in the exclusionary zone below 1,300 feet. Pilots transiting the river must fly between 1,000 and 1,300 feet. Local flights, including helicopters, operate in the airspace below 1,000 feet. All aircraft below 1,300 feet share a common radio frequency.

In addition, FAA established a special flight rules area for the region, which requires pilots to maintain a speed of 140 knots or below; turn on anti-collision and navigation lights, if applicable; self-announce position; and have current charts for the airspace on board the aircraft. Within the exclusionary zone, pilots are required to announce aircraft type, position, direction and altitude along charted reporting points. In remarks announcing the final rule changes, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that better separation in the corridor “means a higher margin of safety.” He added that “separating aircraft on different missions and improving pilot situational awareness will add more layers of safety to this high-demand airspace.”
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