Don't Go There

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TFRs, ASRS, And Avoiding Enforcement Action...

The pilot who plodded along in a Mooney M20 above the Potomac River on Monday morning flew within eight miles of the White House, and managed to intrude not only into the Air Defense Identification Zone, but also its inner ring, the Flight Restricted Zone, which extends in a radius of 15 nm from the Washington Monument. In some cases of piloting errors, filing a reporting form within the Aviation Safety Reporting System can sometimes offer some level of "immunity" -- against sanctions, not against prosecution. FAA, spokesman William Shumann told AVweb, "In those cases where a penalty was imposed even though an ASRS report was filed, it might be because the pilot didn't check NOTAMs or otherwise comply with FAR 91.103, which requires a pilot to 'become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.'" As for satisfying those requirements, "If one wants to be legalistic, the Automated Flight Service Stations are the only 'official' source of information, and DUAT is the only 'authorized' source outside of AFSS," but that applies only to Part 121 and 135 -- not Part 91 operators. Part 91 operators "can use whatever sources of weather and other information they wish to meet the requirement of getting all the information necessary for a safe flight," said Shumann. Concerned Part 91 operators may feel more comfortable using only the "official" sources listed above -- regardless of the type of operation. The Washington ADIZ has been there for six months now, and while it has not been decreed a permanent fixture, "There is no indication that it is going to go away anytime soon," says Shumann. So for pilots not only in the Northeast, but anywhere, it goes without saying: check NOTAMS and choose your information sources wisely. And if you ever do find an otherwise friendly F-16 off your wing, don't forget your intercepting signals, and intercept procedures.