TSA rule makes small improvement for 'DC-3' airports inside Washington restricted zone

October 2, 2005

TSA rule makes small improvement for 'DC-3' airports inside Washington restricted zone

Transient operations will soon be allowed at the "DC-3" airports, albeit on a very restricted basis. While much industry attention has been devoted to reopening Reagan National Airport to general aviation (primarily large business jets), AOPA has focused on the GA airports inside the Washington flight restricted zone (FRZ), repeatedly asking the TSA, FAA, and Congress to allow transient operations at the "DC-3" airports - College Park Airport (CGS), Potomac Airfield (VKX), and Washington Executive/Hyde Field (W32).

Now, a small victory.

The Transportation Security Administration has issued a new rule that transfers responsibility for ground security procedures at the DC-3 airports from the FAA to TSA. (The FAA has issued a revised notam for the Washington, D.C., flight restricted zone - FRZ - to allow vetted transient pilots to operate in FRZ airspace.)

The new TSA rule opens the DC-3 airports to transient operations, provided that pilots comply with the same extensive security procedures that based pilots must follow.

"This action is significant because it marks the first time since 9/11 that transient general aviation operators will have access to these airports," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "While reducing the size of the ADIZ to just the FRZ is AOPA's primary goal, permitting transient operations in the FRZ is a step in the right direction."

All operations into the DC-3 airports were suspended following the September 11, 2001, attacks. In February 2002, the airports were reopened to based aircraft only. Pilots have to undergo a security background check, and there are special flight plan requirements for every flight into and out of the DC-3 airports.

"AOPA has been in regular contact with TSA and other security agencies to push for improvements to the Washington ADIZ, and we'll continue that advocacy," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. "This small, but important, change for the DC-3 airports shows that there are opportunities for improvements, but progress is going to be slow.

"Fair or not, the security agencies are uncomfortable with general aviation because they don't know who's in the airplane. AOPA will continue our education efforts to make sure they understand that GA is not a threat."

In order for transient pilots to fly into one of the DC-3 airports, they first must visit the airport (driving, not flying) and present their identification and pilot credentials to the airport security coordinator (ASC) [see " Personal Identification Number Issuance Process"]. After obtaining a personal identification number (PIN) issuance form, they must go to either the Washington or Baltimore flight standards district office (FSDO) - depending upon which airport they want to use - for an FAA verification of documentation. Following that, they must be fingerprinted at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). There will be a $31 processing fee. Then pilots must return to the airport they want to fly to, present their documents to the ASC, and view a security procedures videotape. After all of that has been attested to, the ASC will forward the information to the TSA, which will issue the pilot a PIN.

With a TSA-issued PIN, pilots can fly to the approved airport, provided they comply with the airspace and flight plan procedures that are detailed in the FAA notam issued February 11.

Update: February 11, 2005