The Department of Transportation has reopened the nation's airspace to IFR general aviation operations. VFR operations may be permitted later this weekend. The official notam from the FAA will be issued shortly and will be posted here when available. AOPA has learned that there will be some restrictions to IFR operations. ALL IFR flight plans must be from airport to airport. ATC will NOT accept "pop-ups" or air files. The pilot must call ATC on the ground before takeoff. No airborne cancellations will be permitted. Cancellations must be made on the ground, with an ATC facility. Pilots must check carefully for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs—listed as FDC notams).
AOPA President Phil Boyer thanked the secretary of Transportation for the open dialogue with the association that resulted in the following announcement and was particularly pleased that Mr. Mineta recognizes the importance of the next phase, VFR flight.
Following is the text of the press release from the Department of Transportation:
September 14, 2001
Secretary Mineta Re-opens Skies to General Aviation
Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has approved restoration of the next phase of national air service, allowing certain general aviation flights back into the air effective at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time today.
"Effective today, general aviation—that important segment of aviation consisting of privately owned and operated aircraft—will be allowed to resume flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR," Secretary Mineta said. "Under IFR, certified pilots operate under direction from air traffic controllers, after filing specific flight plans with the FAA."
Temporarily, however, general aviation flights will not be allowed to fly within 25 nautical miles of New York City and Washington, D.C. Those restrictions will be kept in place until further notice as officials continue to assess the recovery situation in those cities over the near term.
The secretary's decision today also permits the FAA to allow private aircraft owners to evacuate their aircraft under visual flight rules from harm's way during the predicted approach of Tropical Storm Gabrielle within the states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.
Secretary Mineta said he is hopeful that the remaining general aviation flights, those operating under visual flight rules, can resume flying later this weekend. Commercial flights were allowed to resume on Thursday, contingent upon airline and airport compliance with heightened security standards established by the Federal Aviation Administration.
"We are restoring the National Airspace System in a phased mariner, after careful evaluation of the safety and security issues in each sector," the secretary said. "Again, I ask the patience of the flying public. Please remember that we are recovering from a massive disruption and widespread shock. But very soon we will work our way back to full recovery."
There are more than 200,000 privately owned and operated aircraft registered in the United States.