The NYC plane crash:
We all know the "news" is distorted. Coverage of the Lidle accident is another example. It distresses me particularly because I have a pilot's license and know about the flight rules that apply to different areas.
The truth is that aircraft of many types regularly fly without talking to air traffic control. In good weather (under what's known as VFR, or visual flight rules), pilots take the primary responsibility for "separation," or staying out of each others' way. It is perfectly safe. In very congested places, even near more than one very busy airport, you'd be surprised at how well this works. In fact, it works incredibly well overall.
As usual, we don't get all exercised about something that works well nearly 100% of the time until it doesn't work one time.
How many reports on the news have you seen where the reporter, in mock amazement, says, "Lidle wasn't even talking with controllers!" Well, stupid, he wasn't required to, and you don't know enough about what you're reporting to know what kind of impact an ATC contact requirement would have. Here are two I can think of right away: 1) The load on controllers in the busiest air corridor in the US would go way up, with little discernable benefit. 2) You would impede a lot of commercial activity -- there are hundreds of thousands of arrivals and departures per year in and out of Manhattan by helicopters alone. Welcome to the law of unintended consequences.
The primary duty for ATC is to handle separation of IFR (instrument flight rules -- mostly commercial) aircraft, and in a list of descending priorities, separation of VFR aircraft is literally at the bottom.
The solution here in my mind is to not close off the airspace. The solution is to have pilots who know what they're doing fly in that airspace, and pilots who don't to stay out of it.
I'm sure someone is saying that somewhat effectively, but s/he's being well-drowned by the hysteria.
Now, how does this relate to reporting? Like this: Heat does not resolve issues. Light does. Heat agitates. Light does not. Of course, heat is good for ratings, which is good for advertising, which is good for revenue. I don't have a lot of hope for light over heat.
So, if that's the case, and if we as news consumers continue to decide to use hysteria as the input for our decision-making, then the "garbage in, garbage out" rule applies very fully. We'll end up with knee-jerk resolutions that might make some people feel better, but in reality won't help at all.
What always bugs me about situations like this is the discussion of what isn't known. You may know that you can fly VFR below 1,100 feet around Manhattan, clear of LaGuardia airspace, but you may not know why that's safe. You're assuming it's not, when in reality you don't know. And presenting that in an incredulous, know-it-all way does not help anyone at all.