Flight restrictions after Lidle crash to be permanent

Updated: February 5, 2007, 4:57 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Flight restrictions imposed around Manhattan after New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed his single-engine plane into an apartment tower will be made permanent, according to new government documents.

The plan for the rule change was revealed as the National Transportation Safety Board released papers Monday detailing its investigation of the Oct. 11 crash that killed Lidle and his flight instructor.

"The pilot and owner was New York Yankee player Cory Lidle, and a California based flight instructor was with him," the NTSB said, also identifying Stanger elsewhere as the "passenger/flight instructor."

Included in the papers are toxicology reports showing that neither Lidle, 34, nor instructor Tyler Stanger, 26, had drugs or alcohol in their systems. The NTSB also found the airplane's global positioning device and cockpit display unit were too badly damaged by the fiery crash to reveal any information about the flight.

Lidle owned the Cirrus SR-20 plane, and had taken it for a midday trip past the Statue of Liberty and north up the East River. The plane apparently ran into trouble in attempting to turn around and head back south.

The NTSB's documents do not contain final conclusions about what caused the accident, but lay out the facts and evidence gathered by investigators.

The agency does not spell out who was at the controls when it crashed, and due to the lack of data recovered from the plane, the NTSB may have trouble reaching a conclusion on that issue.

The issue of who was piloting the plane during the crash has major financial implications for Lidle's survivors. The life insurance policy Lidle received as a major league baseball player calls for a $450,000 life insurance benefit and has an accidental death benefit of $1.05 million.

However, the plan -- which applies to all big leaguers -- contains an exclusion for "any incident related to travel in an aircraft ... while acting in any capacity other than as a passenger."

That could mean the Lidle family would not be eligible for the $1.05 million.

After the accident, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily ordered small, fixed wing planes not to fly over the river, which runs along Manhattan's East Side, unless the pilot would be in contact with air traffic controllers.

According to the NTSB documents, the Federal Aviation Administration on Dec. 12 "indicated that they would be proceeding with a rulemaking action to make the restrictions ... permanently effective."

The restriction remains in place, an FAA spokesman said Monday, but could not immediately confirm that the agency plans to make the rule permanent.

Small planes could previously fly below 1,100 feet along the river without filing flight plans or checking in with air traffic control. Lidle's plane had flown between 500 and 700 feet above the river.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press