ADIZ training rule angers and confuses members

August 21, 2008

AOPA members are both angry and confused about the new ADIZ training rule. The new rule applies to any pilot flying VFR within 60 nautical miles of the Washington, D.C., (DCA) VOR/DME, even though they may not intend to fly into the Air Defense Identification Zone itself.

Pilots must complete the FAA’s “special awareness training” by Feb 9, 2009, if they will be flying anywhere near Baltimore or Washington.

“Our members are telling us that it makes no sense to mandate training for pilots who’ll never fly in the ADIZ. And they can’t see the logic of forcing pilots who are already flying in the ADIZ or have been cleared for the Flight Restricted Zone to take a course to teach them what they already know,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “Some pilots are also confused about which course they have to take, and whether they’ve already met the requirement.”

As to the first point, AOPA agreed and had argued forcefully against the mandatory training when it was first proposed in 2006. But because of the number of inadvertent ADIZ penetrations through the years, security and national defense officials wanted to ensure that any pilot who might come close to the ADIZ knows about it.

“Our sources tell us that security agencies pushed the FAA pretty hard on this,” said Cebula.

Now, as to the training itself, there are two online courses that meet the requirements of the rule. Some pilots may have already taken an older FAA course, “Navigating the DC ADIZ, TFRs, and Special Use Airspace.” While no longer offered, the course still qualifies, and pilots who have taken it can retrieve a copy of their completion certificate from the “My Courses” section of the FAA’s FAASTeam Web site.

The current course is “ Navigating the New DC ADIZ.” It takes about 90 minutes to complete. If you’ve taken the course before, you don’t need to repeat it, just download a copy of your completion certificate.

(Some AOPA members have complained about having to step through the FAA’s multi-step registration process before they can access the ADIZ training course online. AOPA is currently working with the FAA to get "one click" access to the course. "If they’re going to make us take it, the FAA should make it as simple as possible to get started," said Cebula.)

Pilots could also complete the special awareness training by attending an FAA Safety Program seminar and obtaining an ADIZ training certificate. You don’t have to carry the certificate with you, but you will have to produce it “within a reasonable time” if asked by a law enforcement officer, FAA inspector, or Transportation Security Administration agent.

And even if you always file IFR near Washington, D.C., you still want to take the course. Because if you’re within the 60-nm “speed ring” of DCA and you cancel IFR before you touch down, you’re now VFR and subject to the rule. Gotcha.

“There’s a lot more work that needs to be done on both the training rule and on the ADIZ rules themselves,” said Cebula.