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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-09-086
Details
Synopsis: 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).
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Conduct a review of all class B airspace to identify any other airspace configurations where specific pilot training and familiarization would improve safety, and, as appropriate, develop special flight rules areas and associated training for pilots operating within those areas.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Hoboken, NJ, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: ERA09MA447AB
Accident Reports: Midair Collision Over Hudson River, Piper PA-32R-300, N71MC, and Eurocopter AS350BA, N401LH
Report #: AAR-10-05
Accident Date: 8/8/2009
Issue Date: 8/27/2009
Date Closed: 3/6/2015
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Flightcrew, Oversight, Special Use Airspace, Training and Education

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 3/6/2015
Response: Thank you for the clarification that, although FAA Order JO 7400.2, “Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters,” chapter 2, paragraph 15 1 2, requires that you biennially review all Class B airspace, it does not require that you develop needed special pilot training requirements as part of these reviews. We note that you voluntarily address training issues as you believe necessary, and, rather than using the reviews to identify special pilot training requirements, you rely on comments and specific requests for special pilot training that you receive after publishing a notice in the Federal Register regarding the establishment of, or amendments to, Class B airspace. We do not agree with you that, because you review all class B airspace biennially, you have addressed this safety recommendation. Your reliance on voluntary development of special pilot training for class B airspace with no formalized review or criteria for when this training is needed, other than relying on public comments that you receive after establishing or amending a class B airspace, does not satisfy Safety Recommendation A-09-86. Because you consider your actions complete and plan no further action, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/23/2014
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to conduct Class B airspace reviews biennially in accordance with FAA Order JO 7400.2, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters, Chapter 2, Paragraph 15-1-2. We erroneously stated in a previous letter to the Board that the order required us to develop training for pilots operating in Class B airspace. This order is not intended to develop pilot training requirements; however as part of our reviews of this airspace, we voluntarily address training issues where appropriate. When Class B airspace is established or amended, a notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, and the public is given an opportunity to comment on the proposal. Upon receipt of comments or concerns regarding pilot awareness of the action, or with specific requests for training, the FAA's Air Traffic Organization and Flight Standards Service partner to address such matters as appropriate. We note that part 93 includes three Special Flight Rule Areas: Subpart H, Mandatory Use of the New York North Shore Helicopter Route: Subpart V, Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area: and Subpart W, New York Class B Airspace Hudson River and East River Exclusion Special Flight Rules Area. Given that each of these actions directly impacts general aviation pi lots, the Flight Standards Service participated on the regulatory team and developed training for each area. Because we already review all class B airspace biennially and address special flight rules and training as needed, I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation and consider our actions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 8/13/2013
Response: The FAA indicated that Order JO 7400.2, “Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters,” chapter 2, paragraph 15-1-2, requires that all Class B airspace be subject to a biennial review to identify any airspace configurations where specific pilot training and familiarization would improve safety and, as appropriate, develop SFRAs and associated training for pilots operating within those areas. We reviewed the February 9, 2012, edition of the order and found only the following requirement: Service area offices must biennially evaluate existing and candidate Class B airspace areas using the information contained in this chapter as a guideline. Our review did not find any item in the chapter specifying the need to identify any airspace configurations where specific pilot training and familiarization is needed or for which the development of SFRAs and associated pilot training is needed. Order JO 7400.2 does not satisfy this recommendation unless it contains such guidance for the biennial review. If our review missed this guidance, we ask the FAA to provide the specific language and section within the order where it can be found. On December 23, 2009, the FAA stated that, in response to this recommendation, its planned analysis of all Class B airspace would include analysis of visual flight rules flyways and containment within the Class B airspace. Please ensure that the recommended reviews include this important analysis, which we believe is needed. In the meantime, pending completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendation A-09-86 remains classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/9/2013
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: In accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order JO 7400.2, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters, chapter 2, paragraph 15-1-2, all Class B airspace is subject to a biennial review to identify any airspace configurations where specific pilot training and familiarization would improve safety and, as appropriate, develop special flight rules areas (SFRAs) and associated training for pilots operating within those areas. Enclosed are sample service center responses from biennial reviews from 2011-2012. These reports chronicle efforts, by geographical area, where subject matter expertise is enlisted to make quantitative and qualitative valuations of individual Class B airspace efficiencies and concerns. These reports include accounts of airspace actions intended to remain responsive to and compliant with FAA headquarters and local rules and requirements, including: • Identifying areas that pose a high risk of collision potential between low level commercial, general aviation, military, and helicopter operations; • Determining whether specific pilot training and familiarization would improve safety; and • Developing SFRAs and associated training for pilots operating in those areas, if appropriate. Additionally, we implemented changes to flight rules and operations along the Hudson and East Rivers following the August 2009 accident that resulted in this recommendation. Henry Krakowski, a former Chief Operating Officer for the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, appeared before the House Aviation Subcommittee to outline these changes in November 2009. A copy of Mr. Krakowski's testimony is enclosed. As a result of and in response to this recommendation, Congress asked us to study low-level flight around heavy use airports. We committed to evaluations of flight operations in and around all Class B Airspace, and have or plan to assemble comprehensive, site-specific teams in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Orlando. These site-specific teams, initiated by the FAA's Headquarters Terminal Operations Airspace Group, recognize unique complexities in these metroplexes. The Group continues to support the additional site-specific Task Force Committees which are comprised of a wide cross-section of the aviation community. A comprehensive package of operational and regulatory actions was completed in the New York Metroplex. We have already shared this information with the Board. Oversight responsibility of the New York Metroplex has been transferred to the FAA's New York Area Program Integration Office. Enclosed is the most current version of the Los Angeles (LA) Visual Flight Rules Task Force Safety Assessment and Recommendations Report, dated December 4, 2012. This living document chronicles the activities of the task force. The document illustrates the complexities of the LA basin and aircraft operations and the most current recommendations. It was disclosed in this report last year that the task force recommended the production of a new "hybrid" navigation product to assist airspace users and air traffic control. Funded with the assistance ofNextGen and AeroNav Services, the production of the prototype is in its fourth revision. The format and content of the report has been accepted by the LA Task Force and is awaiting minor graphic and editorial approvals. Following completion of recommended changes to the LA airspace in July 2012, including the addition of functional Class D responsibilities and rulemaking efforts to create Long Beach Class C airspace, the task force has transferred oversight responsibility for the remaining task force recommendations to the FAA's Western Service Center, Operations Support Group (OSG). This transfer addresses the second of the five site-specific evaluations that we had originally planned to complete. A site visit was conducted in the Central Service Center OSG in June 2012 to prepare for the stand-up of the third task force in Chicago. Additional task force administrators visited the Chicago O'Hare Air Traffic Control Tower and the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility to set logistics for meetings that would begin in the first level general aviation and helicopter operations near O'Hare and at the shelf interfaces surrounding the Class B airspace. Although two full task force meetings are anticipated for Chicago in Fiscal Year 2013, we are uncertain whether we will have funding available for any additional site visits. Nevertheless, because we already review all class B airspace biennially and address special flight rules and training as needed, I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation and consider our actions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 8/1/2012
Response: The FAA’s initial, and subsequent, correspondence regarding this recommendation indicated plans to conduct an analysis of all Class B airspace to include VFR flyways and containment within the airspace. In its most recent letter, the FAA stated its commitment to evaluating flight operations in and around Class B airspace in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Orlando, but did not mention operations in or around Class B airspace in Kansas City; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Detroit; Minneapolis; Cleveland; Boston; Denver; Salt Lake; Seattle; Miami; Tampa; Atlanta; Cincinnati; Charlotte; Memphis; New Orleans; Dallas/Ft Worth; Phoenix; San Diego; San Francisco; Honolulu; or Las Vegas. Although the initiative taken with regard to the airspace in the first five cities mentioned above is a positive step, it does not fully address this recommendation. We would appreciate receiving more information regarding the FAA’s planned or completed actions regarding Class B airspace in the remaining 25 cities. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation A-09-86 is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE pending our receipt of the requested information.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/18/2012
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is committed to the evaluation of flight operations in and around Class Bravo (B) Airspace in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Orlando. The FAA continues to assemble site-specific task force committees to identity: • Areas that pose a high risk of collision potential between low level commercial, general aviation, military, and helicopter operations; • If specific pilot training and familiarization would improve safety; and • Any special flight rules areas and associated training that are appropriate to be developed for pilots operating in those areas. The New York Task Force completed a comprehensive package of operational and regulatory actions for the New York Metroplex and is transferring oversight responsibility to the New York Area Program Integration Office. Additionally, the Los Angeles Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Task Force completed a Safety Assessment and Recommendations Report (enclosed). The task force recommended production of a new hybrid helicopter navigation product to assist airspace users and Air Traffic Control. The hybrid chart incorporates all useful helicopter information and pertinent information from the local terminal chart, such as the Class B depiction, and combines it into one electronic or paper chart. This chart will relieve the helicopter pilot from carrying two charts in flight, and should be available by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. Finally, the FAA will assign a task force to the Chicago area in FY 2012 to develop a VFR airspace safety assessment similar to the Los Angeles report. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this recommendation, and I will provide a response by April 30, 2013.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 5/25/2011
Response: The FAA’s update described the various activities that it is taking in response to this recommendation. Pending completion of the reviews described and appropriate actions being taken based on the results of the analyses, Safety Recommendation A-09-86 remains classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/15/2011
Response: CC# 201100120: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting an analysis of the Class Bravo (B) airspace, National Airspace System wide, to include visual flight rules (VFR), flyways, and containment within this airspace. A sample of VFR traffic using the Performance Data Analysis and Reporting System (PDARS) data of the Los Angeles (LA) and New York areas are complete, and potential gains to safety have been identified by working to de-conflict large volumes of General Aviation traffic from Instrument Flight Rules traffic in, around, and under Class B airspace. We also assembled a panel of stakeholders, which included the FAA, Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association (AOPA), LA Police Department's Air Support, LA County Sheriffs Office, and LA area helicopter users, from June 29 to July 1, 2010 in LA to examine the issues related to the LA International Airport Class B airspace and surrounding areas in the LA Basin. The following items were identified as concerns to operations in this area: • Added risks are caused by using the same congested airspace for disparate types of aircraft with disparate speeds, navigation equipment, and communication frequencies; • Special routes through Class B airspace and multiple routes with different requirements impact safety; • Charting irregularities between terminal area charts and VFR helicopter charts exist; and • Common education is absent for helicopter pilots, fixed wing pilots, and controllers. These samples are helping the FAA determine what additional data will be needed to conduct further reviews for areas with similar problematic conditions, as well as how to address the concerns identified above. The next congested airspace to be analyzed is the Chicago Metropolitan Area. The FAA coordinated these steps with user organizations such as AOPA and the Helicopter Association International who participated on the original Hudson VFR Airspace Task Force. This group determined the type of analysis required and procedures to increase safety of flight in these congested areas, specifically to examine the risk of existing Class B airspace designs that force VFR aircraft under or around congested airspace. We are also working with Metron Aviation to study the Class B airspace design criteria contained in FAA Order JO 7400.2, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters, to determine if changes could be made to ensure the efficient safety of aircraft. As of this letter, no changes have been identified. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation, and I will provide a response by January 31, 2012.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 6/23/2010
Response: The FAA’s plan to conduct an analysis of all class B airspace is responsive to this recommendation. Pending completion of that review and appropriate actions being taken based on the results of the analysis, Safety Recommendation A-09-86 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/30/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 12/23/2009 2:21:43 PM MC# 2090717: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: We will conduct an analysis of all Class B airspace to include VFR flyways and containment within the Class B airspace. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation, and I will provide you with an update by April 2010.