FAA Mandates Special Training For Pilots In D.C. Area

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The FAA issued a final rule this week that requires "special awareness" training for any pilot who flies under VFR within a 60-nautical-mile radius of the Washington, D.C., VOR/DME. The training consists of an hour-long online course that focuses primarily on the procedures for flying in and around the DC Metropolitan Area Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the DC Metropolitan Area Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ). Since the ADIZ was created, in 2003, there have been over 3,000 incursions, the FAA says. The agency hopes the new rule will reduce the number of unauthorized flights into the ADIZ and FRZ by educating the pilot community. The free course will be available at FAASafety.gov, and pilots can print out a certificate of completion when they are done. That certificate would have to be presented upon request to authorized representatives of the FAA, NTSB, TSA, or any federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer. The final rule is effective on Feb. 9, 2009.

"EAA and other general aviation organizations have voiced opposition to this mandatory training requirement," said EAA's Doug Macnair, vice president of government relations. "Like it or not, the mandatory awareness training is the least onerous intervention the government can take on incursions," he said. "And if incursions continue after this training requirement has been in place for a while, we'll have an even more difficult time opposing those who want to greatly increase restricted areas, so it's really up to us to become more vigilant about this."