Since September 11, 2001, general aviation aircraft operations have been prohibited at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA). On October 18, 2005, the TSA will begin allowing properly vetted " corporate operators" to begin flying in and out of DCA.
While the rule's applicability is very limited, it represents an important milestone because it is the first time since 9/11 that general aviation aircraft will be permitted to use the airport. The TSA has also indicated that it will consider expanding the access program one year after the initial implementation of the rule. According to estimates prepared by the DCA fixed-based operator, approximately 660 general aviation and charter flights occurred per week prior to September 11, 2001.
After the events of September 11, 2001, massive flight restrictions were implemented throughout the National Airspace System that effectively shut down all flight operations with the exception of military, law enforcement, and emergency-related aircraft operations. Even as flight restrictions were lifted throughout the country, DCA remained closed to GA aircraft. There is also a flight restricted zone and large air defense identification zone that surrounds the nation's capital.
TSA has released the application process and guidance material for aircraft operators, fixed-base operators (FBOs), and armed security officers (ASOs) seeking or supporting access into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).
Full details, including frequently asked questions and the forms needed to make application, are available below.
Who may apply?
At this time, TSA will permit the following operations access to DCA:
For the purposes of implementing this rule, TSA considers a corporate operation as any operation using a paid flight crew, having an operations manual, and requiring recurring flight-crew training. Aircraft that are owned by a corporation but operated by private persons will not be considered for the initial implementation phase of this program.
Aircraft Operator Application Process Overview
Flight Approvals Overview
Any discussion involving the opening of Washington, D.C.'s National Airport to general aviation should also include fully reopening the three other local general aviation airports in the D.C. area. An important step for many AOPA members is rescinding the air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
AOPA continues to press for a more workable process for transient pilots to get approval to use the other "DC-3" airports, which provide convenient access to the nation's capital.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.