After Baseball Player's Death, U.S. Plans to Make Permanent New York City Flight Restrictions

WASHINGTON_Flight restrictions imposed around Manhattan after a professional baseball player crashed his single-engine plane into an apartment tower will be made permanent, U.S. government documents indicate.

The plan for the rule change was revealed as the National Transportation Safety Board released papers Monday detailing its investigation of the Oct. 11 crash that killed New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor.

"The pilot and owner was New York Yankee player Cory Lidle, and a California based flight instructor was with him," the NTSB said, also identifying Tyler Stanger elsewhere as the "passenger/flight instructor."

Included in the papers are toxicology reports showing that neither Lidle, 34, nor instructor Stanger, 26, had drugs or alcohol in their systems. The NTSB found the airplane's global positioning device and cockpit display unit were too badly damaged by the fiery crash to reveal any information.

Lidle owned the Cirrus SR-20 plane, and had taken it for a midday trip past the Statue of Liberty and north up the East River. The plane apparently ran into trouble in attempting to turn around and head back south.

The NTSB's documents do not contain final conclusions about what caused the accident but lay out the facts and evidence gathered by investigators.

The agency does not spell out who was at the controls when it crashed, and due to the lack of data recovered from the plane, the NTSB may have trouble reaching a conclusion on that issue.

The issue has financial implications for Lidle's survivors. The life insurance policy Lidle received as a major league baseball player calls for a $450,000 (€348,000 life insurance benefit and has an accidental death benefit of $1.05 million (€810,000 million).

However, the plan - which applies to all big leaguers - contains an exclusion for "any incident related to travel in an aircraft ... while acting in any capacity other than as a passenger."

That could mean the Lidle family would not be eligible for the $1.05 million (€810,000).

After the accident, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily ordered small, fixed wing planes not to fly over the river, which runs along Manhattan's East Side, unless the pilot was in contact with air traffic controllers.

According to the NTSB documents, the FAA on Dec. 12 "indicated that they would be proceeding with a rulemaking action to make the restrictions ... permanently effective."

The restriction remains in place, an FAA spokesman said Monday, but the spokesman could not immediately confirm that the agency planned to make the rule permanent.

Small planes could previously fly below 1,100 (335 meters) feet along the river without filing flight plans or checking in with air traffic control. Lidle's plane had flown between 500 feet (152 meters) and 700 feet (213 meters) above the river.


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