And Then There Were 17: TSA Adds Dulles To DCA Gateway List

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Jan. 2 added the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) as the newest gateway airport, allowing pre-cleared general aviation operations to fly directly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), which otherwise remains closed to non-scheduled civilian flight operations. Adding IAD is the latest development in the DCA access program, first put into place in July 2005 with a handful of airports throughout the U.S. "This provides operators much greater flexibility when traveling to the nation's capital while underlining TSA's commitment to maintain the highest levels of security while allowing for the free flow of commerce," said John Sammon, TSA's assistant administrator of transportation sector network management. The addition means those wishing to fly from IAD to DCA -- a whopping 20.3 nm -- may do so. But there are a few details.

The TSA's DCA access program allows up to 48 general aviation flights into DCA per day. Each of those flights must meet TSA security standards, including:

  • Advanced registration and qualification of operators and crews seeking to operate at DCA.
  • TSA inspection of crew and passengers.
  • TSA inspection of property (accessible and checked) and aircraft.
  • Identification checks of passengers by the TSA.
  • Submission of passenger and crew manifests 24 hours in advance of flight.
  • An armed security officer on board each flight, authorized to use force.
All GA operations to DCA are subject to cancellation at any time, of course, including whenever the national Threat Level is increased in the Washington, D.C. area or in the vicinity of the gateway airports. Presently, the TSA allows flights to DCA from Dallas/Love Field; Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee's General Mitchell; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; Boston Logan; Houston Hobby; White Plains, N.Y.; LaGuardia, N.Y.; Chicago Midway; Minneapolis/St.Paul; West Palm Beach, Fla.; San Francisco; Teterboro Airport, N.J.; Philadelphia; Lexington, Ky.; and Port Columbus, Ohio airports.