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Flight restrictions after Lidle crash to be permanent

2/5/2007 - New York Yankees

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.