Permanent D.C. ADIZ a bad precedent for GA

November 11, 2008

The Washington, D.C., ADIZIn a final attempt to prevent the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) from becoming permanent, AOPA met with the Office of Management Budget (OMB) on Nov. 10. The OMB, which is currently reviewing the FAA’s proposal to make the airspace permanent, is one of the last hurdles a proposal must clear before being implemented as a final rule.

“The Bush administration is set on pushing this rule through,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “We’re going to fight this until the very end.”

AOPA is expecting the Department of Transportation to publish the final rule just days before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

Cebula proposed two alternatives to the permanent ADIZ, alternatives that AOPA has advocated for years. The first would allow and ADIZ to be established by notam anytime security needed to be heightened. Another alternative would shrink the ADIZ to a 20-nm radius.

“Either action would improve general aviation health in the region,” Cebula told OMB officials, explaining that airports are under increased pressure to close, pilots no longer regularly fly into the D.C. metro area for business or personal travel, and many aircraft owners relocated their airplanes to airports outside the ADIZ or stopped flying.

AOPA commissioned an economic study in 2005 to better understand the impact the flight restrictions had on airports in the area.

“Ten general aviation airports inside the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that are dependent on providing services to pilots of light aircraft are losing nearly $43 million per year in wages, revenue, taxes, and local spending,” AOPA reported Nov. 1, 2005. The study was based on 13 airports impacted by the ADIZ.

“We also reminded OMB officials that the government has never presented a specific, intelligence-based threat assessment to justify the ADIZ,” Cebula said. “Nor has the government provided evidence or analysis demonstrating that the ADIZ results in any measurable increase in security.”

On multiple occasions, Congress has expressed concerns about the ADIZ and called security officials to testify about the airspace restrictions surrounding Washington, D.C.

The ADIZ, published by notam in 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq, has drawn ire from pilots. AOPA led a nationwide campaign, “Operation ADIZ,” in early 2006 when the FAA proposed to make the “temporary” ADIZ permanent. More than 22,000 pilots posted original comments that the agency had to wade through.

Since that time, the ADIZ, which originally encompassed all Washington/Baltimore Class B airspace, has shrunk to a 30-nautical-mile radius of the DCA VOR/DME. This opened some airports that had been inside the ADIZ, and special procedures were created for others, including Leesburg Executive. But the impact on airports that lie within the flight restricted zone of the ADIZ have not been mitigated.

The FAA also is requiring that pilots who fly within 60 miles of the Washington, D.C., VOR/DME take special ADIZ awareness online training. Pilots who fly near the area must complete the training by Feb. 9.

“The government has made it too complicated, too complex for pilots,” Cebula said.