Matching TFRs To The Threats

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FAA Says D.C. ADIZ May Be Cancelled...

Federal officials are considering canceling the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the Washington, D.C., area now that the Department of Homeland Security has lowered its terrorism threat posture. FAA spokesman Greg Martin said the agency is meeting with the appropriate federal departments and it's possible the flight restrictions will be relaxed. On Feb. 27, the threat level was reduced from "orange," or high risk, to "yellow," or elevated risk, which has become the standard threat level since 9/11. "I think it was our intention all along that [flight] conditions would match up with the threat level," said Martin. Before the ADIZ was imposed, there was a 15-mile no-fly zone centered on the Washington monument. The ADIZ radiated 30 miles and required transponders and constant communication with ATC for most aircraft. As soon as the threat level was relaxed, alphabet groups began lobbying for suspension of the ADIZ. "There was a certain level of tolerance by the general aviation community when the threat level was raised to orange," said EAA President Tom Poberezny. "But as the nation moves back to yellow status, we fully expect the additional restrictions will be reduced to where they were before." Poberezny said there is some indication the current threat is actually between yellow and orange and that possible war with Iraq will soon boost the threat level.

...Safety, Noise Concerns Prompt Restrictions

Although it might seem like it these days, it's not just the threat of terrorism that imposes flight restrictions on GA. The FAA has issued final rules on air traffic restrictions over the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls that any air tourists considering visiting those areas should be familiar with. In the case of the Grand Canyon, the FAA is delaying implementation of restrictions in the east end of the national park because of a court decision in favor of the U.S. Air Tour Association, which questioned the noise-measurement criteria established by the FAA in designing new air routes. In Niagara Falls, air traffic patterns that are currently recommendations will soon be law. In the Grand Canyon case, the court found that by excluding non-air-tour traffic, the FAA's noise analysis was flawed. That sent the agency back to the drawing board and it is delaying implementation of flight restrictions in the east end of Grand Canyon National Park until at least Feb. 20, 2006. The already-established restrictions in the west end of the park remain in effect. In the case of Niagara Falls, the Canadian government has already put rules in place to mitigate the congestion of sightseeing aircraft over the falls. The FAA rule, which takes effect March 20, makes permanent the temporary flight restrictions that were put in place last September to harmonize with the Canadian regulations. AOPA objected to some parts of the new rule but the FAA rejected the criticism, saying the permanent flight restrictions were necessary to enforce "the rules of the road" for air traffic over the falls.