The Beat Goes On

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D.C. Becomes Air Defense Identification Zone...

With the national terror level ramped up to "Orange," the FAA and TSA on Saturday issued new airspace restrictions over broad swaths of the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas, to take effect at 6 a.m. today. The new airspace control measures create an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the airspace under 18,000 feet in roughly a 30-mile radius around Washington, and enhance security in the 15-mile Flight Restricted Zone around the district. "Terrorists are known to favor targets in the transportation sector and to consider our civil aviation system an arsenal of improvised weapons," DOT Undersecretary James M. Loy, head of the TSA, said in a news release. Agency officials said they had designed the restrictions to increase security while allowing local general aviation airports to remain in operation. "The Washington capital region is home to a number of particularly symbolic targets which must be protected," said Loy. "We appreciate the cooperation of the general aviation community as we implement sound security measures and tighten our defenses during this period of heightened alert." The TSA said it is working with local law enforcement to increase security at general aviation fields in the Washington, D.C., region. General aviation Part 91 operations continue to be prohibited within the Washington special flight rules area (SFAR 94) within 15 nm of Reagan Washington National Airport, AOPA said.

...Affecting GA Operations At 23 Airports...

The restricted airspace affects 23 public-use airports in the region, which are home to more than 2,400 aircraft and are just shy of 2,500 operations per day on average, AOPA said. The new measures will require GA pilots to maintain two-way radio communications, use a discrete transponder code, file IFR/VFR flight plans and follow standard air traffic procedures before entering the ADIZ. All existing waivers in the Flight Restricted Zone have been cancelled, and will be re-evaluated by the TSA. The only exception is for the waiver holders for operations into and out of the Maryland "DC3" airports (College Park, Hyde Field, and Potomac Airpark), according to AOPA. However, aircraft, crew, and passengers at the DC3 airports will be subject to security screening by the TSA prior to departing. Arrivals will be required to first land at Lee Airport, which is the "gateway" airport outside of the TFR airspace, for screening prior to landing at the DC3. The details of these procedures are still being worked out, AOPA said. FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey said in Saturday's news release, "As all federal, local and state agencies work together to respond to an increased threat level, the FAA will redouble its efforts to get the pilot community timely, accurate information and to balance current security needs with the needs of the flying public." She reminded pilots in the area to always check NOTAMs before flight.

...As Alphabets Plead GA Case

Last week, when these new restrictions were still a gleam in the eye of the TSA, GA alphabet groups were beating the pavement in Washington in an effort to convince the nation's leaders that small airplanes are not a security threat. Ed Bolen, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), testified at the Senate and AOPA President Phil Boyer called on several key members of Congress. Boyer visited Senate aviation subcommittee chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and others to ask that a new TSA rule be suspended and rewritten. As AVweb reported, the rule allows TSA to yank a pilot's certificate based on secret evidence, with no recourse for appeal other than to the TSA. Bolen testified at a meeting of the Senate aviation subcommittee that GA has worked hard to improve security, but complained that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has failed to create a procedure to screen foreign applicants for flight training in large aircraft. "This is an outrage," he said. "As a result of the DOJ's inaction," Bolen continued, "flight schools have lost students, flight instructors have lost their jobs, and domestic manufacturers have lost sales to foreign competitors." Boyer last week said he was finding sympathy for his campaign against TSA's pilot-certificate rule. "Our goal is to sensitize members of Congress to the issue," he said. "And everyone we've talked to so far agrees. ... We cannot, we will not, give up our basic rights to protect us from some vague and secret 'threat.'"

NOTE: Read the full text of Bolen's testimony at the Senate, available in Adobe's Portable Document Format. Click here for more about Boyer's efforts on Capitol Hill.