FAA, TSA Amend DC Flight Rules
Several changes to operations in the Special Flight Rules Area that affects Washington, D.C., airspace will become effective Sept. 1, the FAA said recently. The most significant change will affect pilots flying VFR who lose radio contact with controllers after departing from an airport located within the SFRA (which extends in a circle extending 30 nm out from Reagan National Airport). Under the current rules, those pilots must squawk 7600 on their transponders and immediately leave the SFRA by the most direct route. The new rule will allow pilots to return to their departure airport if it is closer than the SFRA boundary. The FAA also set a speed limit of 180 knots for VFR aircraft within the SFRA. The FAA also made minor tweaks to several other operating practices (click here for the complete official announcement). Also, EAA says the TSA has revised its rules for sport pilots using the three general aviation airports located within the inner 15-nm circle of the SFRA, known as the Flight Restricted Zone.
The TSA has confirmed to EAA that it will treat sport pilots and recreational pilots the same as private pilots, in regards to operating at College Park Airport, Potomac Airfield and Hyde Executive Field. Previously, only private pilots with medical certificates were allowed to complete the application forms required for access to the three airports. TSA officials told EAA the omission was unintentional and the changes are effective immediately.