2006-10-13 / Community

Weiner: Skies Over Manhattan Are Like The 'Wild West'

Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee, called on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to restrict small planes from flying in low airspace around New York City until a complete safety and security assessment of New York City airspace is completed. Weiner also reiterated a call he first made over two years ago to prohibit helicopters from flying over Manhattan.

Weiner said that currently, small planes, such as the one which crashed yesterday, can fly at certain low altitudes in New York City- without checking in with the FAA regarding their flight paths. And helicopters have even fewer restrictions on where they can fly. There is there is no limit on how close a helicopter can fly to a building, and no floor on how low one can pilot a chopper.

In the wake of Wednesday's small plane crash high rise, Weiner has called on the FAA to suspend small planes from flying in low airspace around Manhattan.

Weiner has asked the suspension remain in place until the FAA thoroughly assesses whether small planes should be allowed to fly up and down the East and Hudson Rivers in close proximity to the City's many tall buildings and landmarks.

To control the hundreds of helicopters flying over New York each day, Weiner will reintroduce legislation that he authored last year to restrict helicopter airspace and increase communication between pilots and air traffic control. Specifically, the Weiner proposal would prohibit helicopters from flying within 1,500 feet of any structure or building, or over a city with a population of 1 million or more, except on approach and departure. The Weiner legislation would also require choppers to stay in contact with air traffic control regardless of altitude.

Weiner first fought for tougher regulations of New York City's airspace in 2004, recognizing that small planes and helicopters could pose a potential homeland security threat. In addition to pushing legislation over the past two years, he sent a letter to the FAA in April 2005 expressing his concern about the hundreds of free-flying helicopters that circle Manhattan.

"Current FAA regulations allow helicopter operators to fly anywhere in the city - under certain altitudes," wrote Rep. Weiner. "I believe that this situation presents an unacceptable risk that must be alleviated." Weiner insisted that Administrator Blakey "issue an emergency FAA directive to prohibit all nonessential helicopters from operating in airspace over New York City."

"New York City has some of the busiest airspace in the world which must be managed with the utmost precision to protect both lives on the ground and lives in the air," said Rep. Weiner. `"It's time to start treating helicopters and small airplanes just as seriously as we do jumbo jets."

Weiner's legislation would make exceptions for police, medical, and other authorized helicopter traffic.

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