NYC no-fly zone proposal: AOPA says 'enough is enough!'

March 4, 2003

The Honorable Carolyn McCarthy
U.S. House of Representatives
106 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3204

Dear Congresswoman McCarthy:

Enough is enough! What further burden must general aviation bear when it has never been used as a weapon of terror? On behalf of the almost 400,000 members of AOPA, I urge you to not support Representative Steven Rothman's (D-N.J.) request to close airspace and effectively close off more than 12 public-use airports in a 15-mile perimeter around New York City. Is this another opportunity for "security" to camouflage a congressman's long-term desire to limit operations at airports in his district? Under Representative Rothman's proposal, pilots would be subjected to a complex procedure—used last during the Salt Lake Olympic Games. They would be required to fly into a "gateway" airport, obtain a waiver, and then fly on to the 12-plus public-use airports that would be closed to aircraft from other locations.

The entire area is not regulation free at this time. Congressman Rothman has ignored the extensive network of existing restrictions put in place by a highly qualified interagency group: FAA, TSA, Secret Service, FBI, Department of Defense, and Customs and Immigration.

Under the current 30-nm air defense identification zone (ADIZ) surrounding New York City, unknown traffic is restricted under the following:

  • Two-way voice communications between aircraft and air traffic control are required prior to entering the ADIZ
  • Aircraft operating within the ADIZ are required to use a discrete transponder code
  • At Code Orange levels, pilots must file flight plans for entering and departing the ADIZ
  • Moreover, there currently exist temporary flight restrictions around sporting events that would address those venues mentioned in Representative Rothman's letter

In addition, Governor McGreevey has recently implemented a "two-lock" order and other airport security measures in his state, placing New Jersey at the top of the list for airport and airspace restrictions.

Representative Rothman ignores the fact that the majority of general aviation aircraft do not have the speed or velocity to do significant damage to a building or structure—moreover, use of such aircraft to dispense a biological or chemical weapons would be inefficient at best and ineffectual most likely.

His comparisons to our nation's capital airspace restrictions being duplicated in New York City do not take into account the economic damage three small closed airports have suffered. Their size and scope pale in comparison to the 12 large general aviation airports that would be affected by the congressman's request.

Congress has tasked the Transportation Security Administration with the duty of overseeing our security in the skies and at our airports. Let them do their job!

Sincerely,

Phil Boyer

April 3, 2003