Av Hazard publicizes safety and operational concerns to help prevent accidents but it works only if we hear from you. Use the postage-free Av Hazard card to describe the hazard and return it to Pro Pilot. To obtain an official FAA review send NASA an ASRS form. For immediate action, call the airport, FBO, ATC, FSDO or the 24-hour FAA Safety Hotline at 800-255-1111. Note: Telephone numbers for all US Towers and ARTCCs are published in Ac-U-Kwik and Pilots Express Airport/Heliport/FBO directories. To report safety concerns outside the US, contact ICAO HQ at 514-954-8219 or via fax at 514-954-6077. ICAO has worldwide telephone and fax numbers to expedite Av Hazard reports to civil aviation authorities.
NYC flight rules
In reference to NYC VFR special rules (Pro Pilot, Jan 2010), the item said the “intent” was to keep fixed-wing traffic at or above 1000 ft MSL but less than 1300 ft MSL as a “transient” operation. However, if I want to make a course reversal at the Statue of Liberty (as I have for 28 years) in a fixed-wing aircraft to go north, then I become “local” traffic per definition since I am not over flying the complete Alpine Tower–Verrazano Bridge (VZ) route. See the confusion? Then I should be less than 1000 ft MSL with the helicopters. FAA should clarify this.
- The SFRA card published in January’s Av Hazard for the new NYC Special Flight Rules Area (CFR Part 93) only shows the routes graphically. Pilots should take FAA’s online course at www.FAAsafety.gov for further information if they plan on using the SFRA routes to avoid confusion.
The course takes approximately 20 min. According to FAA, all pilots (airplane and helicopter) are required to have a current copy of the New York Terminal Area Chart (TAC) and/or New York Helicopter Route Chart in the aircraft and be familiar with the information on the chart for flight operations through the NYC terminal area under VFR conditions.
The NYC TAC explains additional mandatory procedures from FAR Part 91.350 for the pilot to limit his/her airspeed to 140 kts. Nav and anticollision lights must be used and the pilot must make self-announced position reports as shown on the NY TAC. Use of landing lights is not required but highly recommended. The NYC TAC also explains the mandatory procedures for transient aircraft, defined as follows.
“Aircraft overflying the area within the Hudson River exclusion, but not landing or departing any of the Manhattan heliports or landing facilities, or conducting any local operations” must transit the Hudson River exclusion at or above an altitude of 1000 ft MSL up to but not including the floor of the overlying Class B airspace (1300 ft MSL).
The kneeboard card further defines transient operations as “aircraft transiting the Hudson River exclusion from end to end without intending to significantly change heading, altitude or airspeed.” For the regulatory definitions see CFR 91.350(a) for “local operations” and CFR 91.350(b) for “transient operations. Pilots can fly VFR through the Class B airspace down the Hudson River utilizing the Skyline Route.
The pilot must obtain an ATC clearance prior to entering the route, have the appropriate chart and can fly at an assigned altitude between 1300 and 2000 ft MSL. The author contacted LGA Tower for further explanation of the SFRA procedures and viewed the FAA online course for the NYC SFRA exclusion. An aircraft wishing to fly from the north, southbound to look at the Statue of Liberty, would fly along the west side of the Hudson between 1000 ft MSL and up to but not including 1300 ft MSL.
The pilot is expected to travel down to the VZ under “transient operations,” then transition to “local operations” northbound to the statue. When the pilot is done observing the statue, he/she would then fly to the VZ, transition to the “transient operations” up the east side of the river northbound between 1000 ft MSL and up to but not including 1300 ft MSL.
This limits the time you are operating in the local airspace according to FAA. The kneeboard card published in Av Hazard and available from the FAA website cautions pilots when circling the Statue of Liberty to do so at the highest practical altitude below 1000 ft MSL, circle the statue in a counterclockwise direction and be aware of local helicopter tour operators flying an irregular pattern near the statue at approximately 500 ft MSL.
FAA says that many helicopter tour operators then climb into the overlying Class B airspace with a clearance to continue their tour operations. With the large number of high-profile aviation accidents and the recent midair collision of a helicopter and airplane over the Hudson on Aug 8, 2009, aircraft cannot operate the way they have for 28 years over NYC.
That being said, no written procedure will ever replace the see-and-avoid requirement of FAR Part 91.113(b) and we must always stay vigilant. Most midair collisions occur on beautiful, sunny VFR days when our guard is down and we are enjoying our pilot privileges. Stay alert and stay safe.