Some corporate operators can begin flying to DCA

August 22, 2005

Some corporate operators can begin flying to DCA
Most GA still not permitted

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On October 18, the TSA will begin allowing properly vetted "corporate operators" to fly in and out of Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). But just because your aircraft is registered to a corporation doesn't mean you'll be able to fly into DCA.

Meanwhile, AOPA continues to press for a more workable process for transient pilots to get approval to use the other "DC-3" airports convenient to the nation's capital.

"TSA has indicated that it will consider allowing other GA aircraft such as owner-flown and non-corporate aircraft into DCA, but only after this program has been in place for one year," said Rob Hackman, AOPA manager of regulatory and certification policy. "By TSA's definition, 'corporate operator' means paid flight crew, operations manual, and recurrent flight-crew training."

It also means an on-board security officer, security screening at one of 12 gateway airports, and TSA approval - at least 24 hours in advance - for every flight, crew, and passenger.

If you think you can qualify as a corporate operator and you want to land at DCA, you can find all of the necessary information and paperwork here for you to begin the application process.

It will not be cheap; TSA will require operators to pay for all of the security screening and background checks, as well as the on-board security officer required when carrying passengers.

But if you're flying to Washington, there are other close-in airports, namely the DC-3 - Potomac Airfield (VKX), Washington Executive/Hyde Field (W32), and College Park Airport (CGS). College Park even has the advantage of being within walking distance of a Washington Metro (subway) stop.

The disadvantage of all three, however, is that they are within the Washington, D.C., Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ), and you need to have been issued a personal identification number (PIN) by TSA to land there.

Currently, you must go to the Baltimore FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for a records check and DCA airport to be fingerprinted for a criminal records check before TSA will allow you to receive a PIN and fly into the DC-3 airports.

AOPA is continuing to work with the TSA to reduce that burden, advocating that any FSDO should be able to do the records check and any approved federal or state facility should be able to take your fingerprints. That would save you the special ground trips to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

Oh, and if you you're planning to fly anywhere within about 200 nautical miles of Washington, D.C., you really should review the Visual Warning System minicourse in the AOPA Online Safety Center. It tells you everything you need to know should you inadvertently penetrate the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

August 22, 2005