D.C. airspace off-limits for nuclear summit

April 7, 2010

General aviation pilots may not fly through the Washington, D.C., special flight rules area (SFRA) April 12 and 13.

When 45 heads of state converge on the nation’s capital for a nuclear security summit, security measures for the event include the virtual shutdown of the 30-nautical-mile radius of airspace surrounding the district. According to the notam, the SFRA will be almost completely closed to GA from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern time each day; no GA flights will be allowed into the flight restricted zone (FRZ) over the Capitol and major monuments during the two-day period.

The Washington, D.C., metro area is preparing for road closures, restricted parking, pedestrian screenings, and other security measures during the summit, which will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and is expected to draw leaders from around the world. While commuters on the ground brace for delays, pilots should take extra precautions to avoid the area completely.

The Washington, D.C., SFRA, already an area of heightened security, includes airspace in a 30-nm radius around the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport VOR/DME, and the flight restricted zone (FRZ) within it. During the nuclear security summit, GA aircraft on active IFR flight plans will be permitted to arrive or depart only Dulles International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International, or Manassas Regional/Davis Airport (only when the tower is operational) within the SFRA. No GA flights will be authorized to transit through the SFRA.

All aircraft authorized to operate within the SFRA during the period of additional restrictions must be on an active IFR flight plan, have a discrete transponder code assigned by ATC, and remain in continuous communications with ATC. Pilots should prepare for the additional restrictions during the summit and check notams before each flight. For complete details, see the advisory and TFR.