Inauguration Spawns TFRs, "Good" Lasers, and ADS-B

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The presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 is the first since 9/11, and the level of security for that day is unprecedented -- but there may be more lasting changes, too. The general rule for general aviation is, stay away from D.C. -- far, far away -- from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. on the 20th. Next Thursday, GA aircraft are banned for roughly 23 miles around the city. This too shall pass, but other proposed security measures in the works aren't intended to be temporary. Aside from NORAD's "Visual Warning System," ADS-B may be coming to D.C. According to the FAA's own briefing on the inauguration (made publicly available online this week, then removed ... but we kept a copy) "the TSA has requested $20.8 million to outfit approximately 2800 registered general aviation aircraft permanently based within the DCA Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)" with new transponder-based identification systems. Twelve local law enforcement aircraft would be outfitted to identify those 2800 aircraft cleared (and equipped) as native to the area. We're not sure how the TSA would know, should one of those 2800 aircraft fall into the wrong hands.

As for the inauguration day no-fly zone, "This is yet another example of GA being made a scapegoat in the name of security," said AOPA President Phil Boyer of the TFR. "The airlines [like those previously used for terrorist attacks] are allowed to fly freely while GA pilots are essentially grounded." The measures are extreme, Boyer said, "unnecessarily displacing thousands of pilots, restricting their freedom, and resulting in loss of income for those who use GA to conduct their business." (But what better way to officially introduce the president of the United States and protect the people?) No specific threats have been detected, Department of Homeland Security head Tom Ridge told the press. But sources quoted in yesterday's New York Times said that could mean planning for an attack is going on undetected, or that terrorists are distracted by their activities in Iraq.