No details from the NTSB yet but here is the media information available at the moment.
The cause of the accident was under investigation. But what perhaps thousands of people out on a crystalline summer day saw from both sides of the Hudson was a stunning, low-altitude accident in which the plane rolled up and into the helicopter, striking with a crack like thunder as the helicopter’s blades and one of the plane’s wings flew off, and then both aircraft fell and vanished into the river.
At an afternoon briefing Monday, Hersman said an eight-day NTSB survey of the river corridor before the collision had counted about 225 aircraft flying within a 3-mile radius of the collision site each day.
The airspace where many of these tour craft fly is below 1,100 feet, where pilots are largely free to choose their own routes, radioing their positions periodically but not communicating regularly with air traffic controllers.
Hersman said air traffic controllers at Teterboro (New Jersey) Airport told the pilot of the small plane to switch radio frequencies so controllers at Newark (New Jersey) Airport could communicate with him. She said Newark controllers never made contact with the pilot before the crash.
She said the agency was considering an immediate reaction to the Hudson crash: making it mandatory for pilots in the uncontrolled air corridor to announce their location and intentions on a common radio frequency whose use is now voluntary.
“We welcome their taking some action, but we certainly don’t feel it goes far enough, said Robert M. Gottheim, district manager for Congressman Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat who represents the West Side of Manhattan.
“We would not support closing the corridor because there are less onerous ways to address safety concerns,” Chris Dancy said.
Dancy speaks for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, an industry group that represents the general aviation industry. General aviation refers to private pilots.
Among those measures could be to separate helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, Dancy said. But the AOPA will wait until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its work and will then analyze its report.
“In this particular case what needs to be done is to give the NTSB the time to investigate,” Dancy said. “Then we as an organization are ready to look at all the alternatives to improve safety.”
Altman had a clean record and was instrument-rated, meaning he was trained to fly in poor weather if necessary, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. His medical clearance was up to date, the only restriction being he needed glasses for nearsightedness.
“He was perfectly legal and qualified to fly that aircraft,” FAA spokesman Jim Peters said Monday.
A source with knowledge of the investigation said the controller was on the phone with his girlfriend “after he cleared the pilot for takeoff; he was still on the phone at the time of the crash.”
In addition, “the supervisor was not present in the building as required,” Brown said.
“While we have no reason to believe at this time that these actions contributed to the accident, this kind of conduct is unacceptable, and we have placed the employees on administrative leave and have begun disciplinary proceedings,” she said.