GA's Fight For Rights (Amid Self-Inflicted Wounds)

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

NTSB: No Flight Plan For ADIZ Crash Plane...

The NTSB this week released its preliminary report about the crash of a Cessna 172 that ran out of fuel while awaiting clearance into the Washington, D.C., ADIZ on June 29. According to the report, the pilot told the NTSB he filed two flight plans, for his outbound and return flights, but did not activate the second flight plan before heading back to Martin State Airport, which is inside the ADIZ. In early media reports of the incident, the pilot said he had filed a flight plan, but ATC couldn't find it. In the NTSB report, the pilot said he was instructed by Potomac Approach Control to contact the Leesburg FSS to file a flight plan, and made several unsuccessful attempts to contact the FSS. He then advised Approach Control that he was not able to contact the FSS, and was told to hold for clearance. The pilot said that during the next 45 to 50 minutes, he made repeated calls to Approach Control in an attempt to obtain a clearance into the ADIZ. Finally, the pilot informed the controller that he was "concerned" about the airplane's fuel status, and about five minutes later, was cleared to enter the ADIZ. The pilot did not declare an emergency or request priority handling. The 172 landed in a field three miles short of the runway, and collided with trees. The 75-hour private pilot and his two passengers suffered minor injuries.

...As Angst Over Restrictions Rankles...

The accident in the ADIZ had raised hackles all across GA. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and the National Business Aviation Association, Inc (NBAA) have long fought (with some success) to restore GA and non-scheduled carrier access to D.C.-area airports affected by TFRs, particularly DCA. AOPA, very shortly after the ADIZ fuel-exhaustion incident, made available an online form to collect stories from pilots about their real-life problems dealing with the flight restrictions, and recently used the TFR card as a rallying point at a pilot town meeting in Wichita.Complaints pile up about the administration of the D.C. ADIZ and the proliferation of presidential TFRs, which to some appear better at persecuting the inexpert than protecting the innocent. While last month's fuel-exhaustion episode regrouped the troops, it may also have created a rather awkward (and temporary) poster boy. And the fight goes on. "It's time for someone in the government to step back and assess whether there's a real need for these huge flight-restriction areas, or whether they're just 'feel-good' measures that only give the appearance of increased security," said AOPA President Phil Boyer last week. "AOPA has offered suggestions that would improve operations in the ADIZ while addressing security concerns, but has been rebuffed by both the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)."

...But Michigan Takes One Step Forward

Well, maybe it's not so much a step forward, but a step backward that's been foiled. On Tuesday, Michigan's state Senate voted to repeal a law that required anyone seeking flight training to undergo a criminal history background check, AOPA reported. "Lawmakers have recognized that in their haste to deal with the security lapses of September 11, 2001, they went too far," said Boyer. "All that's needed to close this sorry chapter is Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm's signature." The background-check law will be replaced with a new law that requires flight schools to restrict access to aircraft and ignition keys for pre-solo students. Both the FAA and the TSA supported AOPA's position, agreeing the state was in conflict with federal laws already in place.