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Tue, Dec 26, 2006

Airspace Violations Over NYC Increase In 2006

Schumer Says FAA "Needs To Tighten Up Its Ship"

The New York Post reports 2006 was a bad year when it came to pilots violating restricted airspace over the city, with the number of incidents rising 42 percent compared to 2005.

Authorities say 112 pilots violated airspace and/or altitude restrictions in 2006, up from 79 reported incidents the year before.

Restrictions around New York range from TFRs in effect when the UN General Assembly meets, to permanent restrictions on airspace corridors that govern course and altitude.

The busts weren't limited to private pilots, either. Over a two-day period in September, military jets intercepted a State Police chopper that violated a presidential TFR. Within 24 hours, a pilot for the Middlesex County (NJ) Mosquito Extermination Commission was chased by a US Customs helicopter.

The news gave one lawmaker, already known for his anti-GA stance, fodder to unleash new attacks.

"It may be five years after 9/11, but we can't let our guard down. The FAA ought to tighten up its ship immediately," Senator Charles Schumer said.

The year's most prominent New York-area aircraft incident -- October's crash of a small plane piloted by Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle into a Manhattan highrise -- appears to have occurred as Lidle and his flight instructor attempted to manuever away from Class B airspace over LaGuardia.

As Aero-News reported, the FAA enacted new restrictions on low altitude flights of fixed-wing aircraft around Manhattan shortly after that crash. The agency now requires all pilots to be in contact with air traffic controllers when flying through the East River Corridor.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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