The FAA has instituted new rules designed to keep sightseeing helicopters from colliding with airplanes that are transitioning the Hudson River Corridor near the Statue of Liberty.  The San Francisco Daily Journal, California’s largest legal newspaper, published this column on how the new rules came to pass, and why they aren’t enough.

FAA and

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman’s recent testimony before congress concerning the mid-air collision over the Hudson raises more questions than it answers.  She stated that  the Teterboro controller instructed the Piper pilot to switch to frequency 127.85 to contact the Newark controller.  But before leaving the Teterboro frequency, according to Hersman, the pilot read back to

We count on the NTSB to get the facts right. That confidence is, unfortunately, sometimes misplaced. The truth is that the NTSB gets it wrong. A lot. I’ve written about that herehere, and here.

The NTSB has now given us further reason to question whether it deserves the confidence weATC Radar place in

Compared to pilots in other countries, pilots in the US have extraordinary freedom. Of course, to keep commercial airliners safe from collisions, pilots of small aircraft are excluded from certain Author Over Statue of Libertyairspace near major airports unless they have first obtained a clearance from air traffic controllers.  If a pilot obtains the necessary clearance, controllers will dictate the

Hawaii Helicopter - Jurvetson photoThe Hawaiian Helicopter Tour Industry is Big Business.   Each year, more than 1 million people take an aerial tour of Hawaii.  That equates to one out of every 10 visitors to the islands.  Most of the tours are in helicopters.  The business generates more than $200 million annually, and supports countless jobs.

A helicopter is a great way to take in the islands’ natural beauty.  And that is what the tour companies sell.  "Fly into the heart and heat of an active volcano" advertised one operator.  "Fly close enough to feel the waterfall’s cooling mist" offered another.

But the Helicopter Safety Record is Terrible.  Flying too close to the terrain features, tangling with the islands’ unpredictable "micro-weather," and substandard maintenance practices have resulted in a long list of fatal accidents. As a result, year after year, Hawaii’s aviation safety record stacks up


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Accident victims or their families ask me this question a lot.  Sadly, the answer is usually: "no."

Pilots:  Most states require drivers on our highways to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance in case they injure someone. But pilots are regulated by the federal government, not the states. The federal government does not require pilots