New York police divers have removed about 20 small pieces of the helicopter that collided with small plane over the Hudson River -- less than a day after crews recovered the final two victims of the midair crash.
Nine divers returned to the crash site this morning to search for debris from the collision, which killed nine people.
By noon, they had picked up 20 pieces of the helicopter -- all a foot long or less -- and rigged larger pieces to be hoisted later.
A prayer service was held earlier today at a Manhattan funeral home for five Italian tourists killed in the disaster.
Italian authorities want an independent probe into the cause of the crash -- a standard move when tourists are killed abroad.
And New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration today requesting regulatory changes that he said are essential for "improving the saftey of New York's congested and dangerous airspace."
“Last Saturday's horrific crash is a powerful wake-up call to the FAA that we can no longer allow the free-for-all that currently imperils our local airspace,” said Nadler.
The crash has spurred heated debate over monitoring low-altitude flights in the busy skies of Manhattan.
The National Transportation Safety Board has said that it suggested ways to make the heavily trafficked fly zone over the Hudson River safer for aircraft -- but was ignored.
NTSB chief Debbie Hersman noted that her agency recommended safety measures for small planes and helicopters flying in the area to the FAA but the latter agency never implemented its suggestions.
Pilots and officials have said the devastating mid-air collision could have been foreseen; more than 200 aircraft fly within three miles of the crash site on a daily basis. Current rules allow helicopters to fly without contact if sightseeing over the Hudson and below 1,100 feet, but many are calling for new guidelines after this weekend's tragedy.
While the FAA did not respond directly to Hersman's comments, the agency said it would consider suggestions from the NTSB after the investigation into the crash is completed, which could take months.
A suburban Philadelphia development executive, his brother and teenage nephew and an Italian tourist group and their pilot were killed in Saturday's crash.
For his part, Mayor Bloomberg said he wouldn't lobby to change air traffic patterns over the Hudson corridor, but the avid flyer didn't say he was against changes either.
"I’m not going to pressure the FAA. They don’t need me weighing in," Bloomberg said. "They know what goes on there. They are professionals."
The air accident, the deadliest in the New York City area since the 2001 crash of a commercial jet in Queens killed 265 people.