New gateway for business flights to DCA

June 17, 2010

The Transportation Security Administration has added Saginaw International Airport in Saginaw, Mich., to the list of gateway airports granting business flights access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C.

The designation of Saginaw International as a DCA Access Standard Security Program (DASSP) gateway airport means participating pilots will be able to stop there and get clearance at the approved FBO, Avflight Corporation, to fly to DCA. General aviation has been highly restricted at Washington National since 9/11; and while traveling via a gateway airport is still an arduous process for many operators, the TSA’s GA branch has indicated it is looking for ways to increase GA access to the airport.

Brian Delauter, general manager of the agency’s GA branch, told AOPA and other aviation stakeholders early this month that he wanted to meet with the industry to discuss changing the security procedures into DCA in order to grant more access for business flights. AOPA Vice President of Operations and International Affairs Craig Spence said the addition of a gateway airport is a step in the right direction.

“It won’t be a fast-moving change, but we are encouraged by Delauter’s engagement in the issue and hope that other agencies such as Secret Service and Department of Defense will follow suit,” Spence said. Security at the airport involves all three agencies.

Participants in the DASSP may fly to DCA by stopping at one of the gateway airports first. The process includes an application and a fingerprint/criminal history records check. Currently, only business flights are eligible, but once a business participates in the program, it may be allowed access to core airports in certain TFRs.