Local flight instructor Stanley Ferber said that while the city's airspace is bustling with "a myriad of helicopters and planes," there is much more room than people on the ground realize.
"As a pilot, you always have to be on your toes, but it is not a tight situation," he said. "In all the time of my flying over New York, I've never had anything like a close call."
Still, he added, it isn't a place to let your concentration wander - especially in the narrower corridor over the East River. There, the water narrows in many spots to less than a half-mile (800 meters), with the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the west and LaGuardia's airspace to the east, in Queens.
The calls to restrict general aviation traffic in the area have mounted.
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, has called for tighter rules, including a permanent closing of the Hudson River approach to the city, west of Manhattan, and a requirement that low-flying aircraft submit a flight plan before entering New York airspace.
Weiner said all pilots flying near Manhattan should be required to be under the supervision of air traffic controllers. Most low-altitude flights over the island itself should be banned entirely, he said.
Unnerved residents of the apartment building struck by Lidle's plane also complained about the proximity of aircraft to tall city buildings.
"I feel like I can see the pilot at times, it's that close," said Lillian Snower Beacham, who lives on the 36th floor.
Federal aviation accident records list relatively few general aviation accidents near Manhattan, considering the large numbers of craft flying.
Two helicopters rolled into the East River last year immediately after takeoff, causing injuries, but no deaths. There were fatal helicopter crashes in 1997 and 1990. Passengers escaped unhurt when a Cessna dove into the Hudson in 1988. Four people died when a seaplane and police helicopter collided over the East River in 1983.
Associated Press Writers Sara Kugler, Richard Pyle, Adam Goldman and Amy Westfelt in New York and Leslie Miller in Washington contributed to this report.
FAA spokeswoman Laura J. Brown said Thursday the agency has decided to review guidelines and flight restrictions.
The FAA immediately banned most small, fixed-wing planes are banned from the area unless the pilot is in contact with air traffic controllers.