February 28, 2003
Admiral John E. Shkor Chief Operating Officer U.S. Department of Transportation Transportation Security Administration 400 7th Street, Southwest Washington, D.C. 20590
Re: Threat Level Yellow and National Capital Region ADIZ
Dear Admiral Shkor:
Now that the federal government has decreased the National Threat Level Alert status to Yellow, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) anticipates that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will suspend the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) around Washington.
As you advised us in advance, by conference call on Saturday, February 8, and at a hastily called General Aviation Coalition meeting Monday, Feb 10, the TSA in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies created the ADIZ on February 8. This encompassed airspace under 18,000 feet in roughly a 15 to 30-mile radius around Washington, which served to extend security measures outside of the pre-existing 15-mile no-fly zone around Washington. At the time, the TSA and FAA in a press statement announced, "...enhanced airspace control measures in the National Capital Region (NCR) to a level consistent with a heightened National Threat Level Orange."
Our members are now asking, "with the rollback of the threat level shouldn't the ADIZ be rescinded, and the pre-February 8 conditions be re-instated?"
Under Secretary Loy was quoted in the previously mentioned press release as saying, "We appreciate the cooperation of the general aviation community as we implement sound security measures and tighten our defenses during this period of heightened alert." This leads us to request that the TSA cancel Notams 3/1104, 3/1105, and 3/1244, that implemented these restrictions.
At our meeting with you on February 10, we all emphasized the concerns over using the elevated threat condition as a way to impose airspace restrictions that are not eliminated after the threat conditions are lowered. We know that the TSA and the FAA had designed the ADIZ restrictions to increase security while still allowing local general aviation airports to remain in operation. Unfortunately, the current ADIZ restrictions place significant financial and operational hardships on the general aviation businesses and operators who are based within the airspace.
Experiencing operations under the ADIZ over the last three weeks it is clear that the air traffic control system does not have the resources in place to effectively manage, for extended periods of time, the volume of general aviation traffic requiring access. Continuing the ADIZ will require significant dollar investment for infrastructure improvements. These would include at least five air traffic control towers, as well as 13 additional remote communication outlets.
Even with the bad weather that has dominated the region since the ADIZ was put into place, the requirements that general aviation pilots maintain two-way radio communications, use a transponder and discrete beacon code, file IFR/VFR flight plans, and follow standard air traffic procedures before entering the ADIZ have overloaded the ATC system. Pilots have had extreme difficulties in gaining access to the airspace.
On behalf of the nearly 400,000 members of AOPA, under this reduced threat level, I urge you to rescind the ADIZ restrictions immediately. As always, the Association stands ready to communicate these airspace changes to our membership, to avoid any misunderstanding created by the changing conditions.
February 27, 2003
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