TSA Closes D.C.-Area Airport...

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Potomac Airfield "Not In Compliance"

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday informed Potomac Airfield -- one of three small GA airports in the Washington area that operate under special post-9/11 security regulations -- that its security program has been suspended, effectively closing down operations. "The airport was told it is not in compliance with its approved security plan," TSA spokesman Darrin Kayser told AVweb yesterday. "We had told them they were not meeting certain criteria, and then did a spot check over the weekend, and found they are still not in compliance." Exactly what those measures are that were supposed to be followed, or what the transgressions were, the TSA will not discuss. "Planes utilizing this airfield, which is a part of the Maryland Three group [Potomac Airfield, College Park Airport, and Washington Executive/Hyde Field], fly in close proximity to many key assets and critical infrastructure in the DC metropolitan area," the TSA said on Tuesday, in a news release announcing the closure of the field.

In February 2005, the TSA assumed management of a program that allowed the three airports to continue operations under a rule that was created specifically for them, due to their location within the Washington, D.C., Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ), which extends to approximately a 15-mile radius from the Washington Monument. (The FRZ is separate and distinct from the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that extends at its widest point to 90 miles and is currently being considered in an FAA rulemaking.) The rule also grants access to pilots not based at the Maryland Three airports if they comply with the TSA-mandated security requirements and procedures. The TSA said it routinely monitors these airports to ensure compliance through regular inspections and communications with the airport security coordinator. Operations at College Park and Washington Executive/Hyde Field are not impacted by the suspension of the Potomac Airfield security plan.