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General Aviation Safety
On August 8, 2009, about 1153 eastern daylight time, a Eurocopter AS350 BA helicopter, N401LH, operated by Liberty Helicopters, and a Piper PA-32R-300 airplane, N71MC, operated by a private pilot, were substantially damaged following a midair collision over the Hudson River near Hoboken, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot and five passengers aboard the helicopter and the certificated private pilot and two passengers aboard the airplane were killed. The helicopter flight was a local sightseeing flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 135 and 136. The airplane flight was a personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The helicopter departed West 30th Street Heliport, New York, New York, about 1152. The airplane departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, about 1149, destined for Ocean City Municipal Airport, Ocean City, New Jersey. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans were required or filed for either flight. However, the pilot of the airplane requested flight-following services from TEB air traffic control (ATC).
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Revise standard operating procedures for all air traffic control (ATC) facilities, including those at Teterboro airport, LaGuardia airport, and Newark Liberty International airport, adjoining the Hudson River class B exclusion area in the following ways: (a) establish procedures for coordination among ATC facilities so that aircraft operating under visual flight rules and requesting a route that would require entry into class B airspace receive ATC clearance to enter the airspace as soon as traffic permits, (b) require controllers to instruct pilots with whom they are communicating and whose flight will operate in the Hudson River class B exclusion area to switch from ATC communications to the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) and to self-announce before entering the area, (c) add an advisory to the Automatic Terminal Information Service broadcast, reminding pilots of the need to use the CTAF while operating in the Hudson River class B exclusion area and to self-announce before entering the area, and (d) in any situation where, despite the above procedures, controllers are in contact with an aircraft operating within or approaching the Hudson River class B exclusion area, ensure that the pilot is provided with traffic advisories and safety alerts at least until exiting the area.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
Hoboken, NJ, United States
Midair Collision Over Hudson River, Piper PA-32R-300, N71MC, and Eurocopter AS350BA, N401LH
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Air Traffic Control, Procedures, Procedures: Air Traffic Control
Safety Recommendation History
As we discussed in our June 23, 2010, letter to the FAA regarding this recommendation, the revisions that the FAA implemented on November 19, 2009, did not address item (b) of this recommendation. We remain concerned about this omission. However, the FAA considers its action in response to Safety Recommendation A-09-82 to be complete and plans no further action; accordingly, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.
From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: A cross-organizational team consisting of personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Terminal Airspace Group, Teterboro Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Liberty International Airport discussed the recommendation. It was concluded that it would be redundant to require controllers to instruct pilots to self-announce because this requirement currently exists in section 93.351, General requirements for operating in the East River and/or Hudson River Exclusions, (enclosure I). Additionally, these instructions have been added to the New York Terminal Area Chart and Helicopter Route Charts. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
The revisions to New York airspace that the FAA implemented on November 19, 2009, addressed items (a), (c), and (d) of the recommendation. However, the NTSB disagrees with the FAA about the actions the FAA has taken and planned in response to item (b) (the FAA will indicate the CTAF and the mandatory requirement to self-announce on the visual flight rules [VFR] charts for this area and added mandatory reporting points where pilots are expected to broadcast on the CTAF once in the exclusion area); those actions do not satisfy the intent of that element of the recommendation. Although ATC tower frequencies are included on VFR charts and it is mandatory that the pilot contact the tower before landing/departing/transiting the airport, ATC reminds the pilot when to switch to the tower frequency and provides the radio frequency. The NTSB believes that the FAA should implement a similar requirement for the class B exclusion area. Pending the FAA’s implementing a requirement for controllers to instruct pilots operating in the Hudson River class B exclusion area to switch from ATC communications to the CTAF and self-announce before entering the area, Safety Recommendation A-09-82 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
Letter Mail Controlled 12/23/2009 2:21:43 PM MC# 2090717: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: On November 19, 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration implemented the following: a) New coordination procedures were developed between TEB and Newark Liberty International airport (EWR) that will ensure a Class B clearance can be issued to the pilot before departure from TEB. TEB will request approval from EWR prior to takeoff for aircraft requesting a Class B clearance and will be authorized to climb the aircraft to 1,500 feet. The common transfer point identified in the Letter of Agreement (LOA) between TEB and EWR was moved so the receiving controller at EWR can issue appropriate control instructions in a timely manner. Additionally, we find that there does not need to be any changes to LaGuardia airport (LGA) concerning Class B clearances; transient flights receive Class B clearance from LGA; b) TEB Standard Operating Procedures were modified to incorporate a standard visual flight rules (VFR) "punch-out" route for departures not requesting entry into Class B. This route will specify that all fixed-wing aircraft proceed directly to the George Washington Bridge for entry into the Hudson River Exclusion area. The advertising of the CTAF and the mandatory requirement to self announce were added to the VFR charts. Also, there are mandatory reporting points that pilots are expected to broadcast on the CTAF once in the exclusion area; c) We do not expect neighboring facilities to amend or add notes to the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) for broadcasting the CTAF. Adding the frequency requirement to the charts will address the pilot notification procedures. Another advisory to the ATIS may add confusion to an already limited ATIS system. The CTAF and procedures will be included in pilot training. The use of CTAFs along the Hudson River are now listed on the charts as follows: Hudson River CTAF 123.05 and East River CTAF 123.075. There are standard Pilot/Fixed Base Operator communication procedures that are a requirement for pilots and FBOs in these areas; and d) Numerous initiatives have been developed to ensure pilots are provided with traffic advisories and safety alerts. We developed the Class B VFR transition route to encourage pilots to request Class B services for flight over the Hudson River. As such, these services include traffic advisories and safety alerts. This route is depicted on the New York Terminal Area Chart (TAC) inset with a note that ATC clearance is required. This route will expedite handling, enhance safety, improve communication between the controller and pilot, increase the number of aircraft under positive control, reduce cockpit workload, increase pilot situational awareness, and reduce traffic in the Exclusion airspace. I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation by revising the standard operating procedures, and I consider our actions complete.
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