Unfortunately, when bad news happens in GA, it can happen in a big way. The collision between a Piper Saratoga and a sight-seeing helicopter is tragic in all respects: Loss of life, destruction of aircraft, negative public perception and grandstanding by various entities with various motives.
Getting past the chatter and “news” is challenging but it reinforces how GA pilots operate on a national stage, whether that is our intent or not. Aviation is always under a microscope. The wreckage had not even been plucked from river before there were calls to close the corridor or to require procedural changes and equipage but let’s be sure we understand the cause, the fix and all of the ramifications
AOPA and ASF became engaged about :30 minutes after the accident providing factual information to the media and coordinating with FAA. That’s good because it allows us to clear up misconceptions of which there are many.
There have not been any other midair collisions between two aircraft in the Hudson corridor in the past 10 years. In fact, we haven’t been able to find any midair collisions in the Hudson corridor ever but we’re still looking. Nationally, there have been 49 midair collisions in the past 5 years that involved at least one fixed wing aircraft (excluding this accident – ASF doesn’t track helicopter-only accidents). Twenty-three were fatal with fifty-two people lost, with one fatality on the ground.
Can the record be improved? I think so, even though we’re dealing with very small numbers of random events. In high density traffic the use of eyes, CTAF, collision avoidance gear, where available, and following procedures explicitly will help.
We don’t shut down major roads despite an occasional accident but that’s not to justify ANY shortcomings that the investigation uncovers. The discussion will be robust and that there will be a healthy serving of politics wrapped as safety. Let’s stay focused on safety.