Above the Hudson, a Chaotic Airspace

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2009 5:39 AM CDT
Air traffic controllers are unable to contact pilots flying above the Hudson because they're flying too low.   (©nosha)
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(Newser) – Above the Hudson River west of Manhattan, where a helicopter and a light plane fatally collided on Saturday, a pilot can have as many as a dozen other aircraft to monitor at busy moments. Flight instructors describe the river corridor as dangerous and tunnel-like, and government is once again facing calls to step in. "It's the Wild West out there, totally unregulated, and no one knows where these pilots are," one official tells the New York Times.

By the time aircraft reach the Hudson they have dropped to under 1,000 feet, meaning that air traffic controllers cannot contact them and pilots are responsible for their own safety. One aviation lawyer pointed out that the low-wing design of the plane that crashed and the rotors above the helicopter can create a "blind zone" between the two. "Low wing and high wing, those tend to be the midair collision pairing," he said.