FAA Restricts Flights Over NYC's East River

Reacting to the crash that killed a New York Yankees pitcher, the Federal Aviation Administration has added new flight restrictions to the air space over New York's East River.

The regulations will affect small aircraft, but not helicopters, that were previously permitted to fly over the river, which runs along the east side of Manhattan Island.

Also exempted are planes that fly in and out of a seaplane base in the river. Pilots of those aircraft are more familiar with the airspace than most private pilots.

Under Friday's announcement by the FAA, most small, fixed-wing planes are banned from the area unless the pilot is in contact with air traffic controllers.

The new flight restrictions went into immediate effect.

The change came two days after a single-engine plane owned by Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle slammed into an high-rise Upper East Side apartment building, killing Lidle and his flight teacher.

New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., had asked the FAA on Thursday to require anyone flying near Manhattan to be under the supervision of air traffic controllers.

"This is something that should have been done a long time ago," Schumer said. "Now I hope the FAA will do a thorough study of the New York airspace, something they haven't done since 9/11."

The FAA, though, said it changed the rule because of safety rather than security considerations.

"You get some real strange winds going through those canyons of buildings," said Bill Waldock, aviation safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at Prescott, Ariz.

"It's a weird area to try to maneuver airplanes in anyway," Waldock said.


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