Congress To Look At DCA Access
The federal government's ban of non-scheduled aircraft at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) has long been a major thorn in the side for general and business aviation. In fact, the only people remotely happy with the situation are the FBOs at other airports surrounding the nation's capital. Despite a number of well-meaning intentions and aborted efforts at the Transportation Security Administration and elsewhere, no one within the federal government has been willing to stick out their neck far enough for any real progress to be made. That may well still be the situation, but Congress is scheduled to finally and formally get into the act with a planned field hearing of the House Subcommittee on Aviation. The hearing, set for March 16, 2004, at DCA, will likely look at the impact on airport-based businesses -- namely Signature Flight Support, the only FBO at DCA -- as well as the surrounding community. Also a possibility for the event will be what happened to previous efforts, especially those which were underway in the summer of 2002 and which would have involved establishing a series of "portal" airports through which crew and passengers of aircraft destined for DCA would undergo airline-style pre-boarding screening. Many general and business aviation trade associations have long maintained they would adopt any "reasonable" security-based protocols designed to allow non-scheduled access to DCA if only someone within the federal government would approve them. That appears to remain the situation, although the upcoming hearing will probably not be the beginning of the end of GA's ban from DCA.