New Hudson River Traffic Rules in Effect

With a high pressure system forecast to continue dominating the weather, today looks like good VFR day in the New York City area. Pilots planning to navigate the Hudson River Class B exclusion zone need to be aware of new rules that are in effect. Following the fatal collision this summer between a VFR Piper Lance and a sightseeing helicopter, the FAA has reconfigured the airspace, and many practices that used to be merely recommendations are now mandatory. The Hudson and East Rivers are now classed as a Special Flight Rules Area, in which pilots must fly at 140 knots or less; activate anti-collision and position lighting, if equipped; self announce their aircraft type and position at charted reporting points on specific radio frequencies; and carry current charts for the airspace (and be familiar with them). Points of particular interest include: the ceiling of the corridor is now raised to 1,300 feet (from 1,100 feet). Pilots using the corridor for transition flights are to fly between 1,000 feet and 1,300 feet. Those conducting "local flights" are to operate below 1,000 feet. Also, the recommended practice of "keeping right," with northbound flights hugging the New York side of the river and southbound flights sticking to the New Jersey side, is now mandatory. Though local politicians complain the new rules don't go far enough, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said, "These changes will define separate corridors for aircraft operating locally and those flying along the Hudson River area. Separating aircraft on different missions and improving pilot situational awareness will add more layers of safety to this high-demand airspace." The FAA plans a series of pilot seminars and an online interactive course to familiarize pilots with the new procedures. For more information, go to faa.gov.