As AOPA first reported yesterday, the FAA has issued a notam warning pilots that commercial and private aircraft flying inside or close to restricted or prohibited areas will be intercepted and may be forced down by armed military aircraft. The military will use deadly force as a last resort after all other means of moving the aircraft away from the sensitive area have been exhausted. The FAA is also warning pilots that the new restricted and prohibited areas being created will not be shown on current charts.
If a pilot is approached by a military aircraft, he must follow the interception procedures in the Aeronautical Information Manual and comply with any instructions given by the military or FAA controllers. Pilots should attempt to establish contact with the intercepting aircraft or air traffic control on 121.5 MHz.
"AOPA has always opposed a 'no-questions-asked' shoot-down policy," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But in these extraordinary times, should an organization of responsible pilots oppose a policy that our government believes is necessary to protect national security?"
"AOPA will demand that the military take every possible precaution to preclude shooting down an innocent aircraft, including ensuring that interceptors can communicate on the VHF frequencies used by civilian aircraft."
In addition, more sensitive areas will now be protected by added restricted and prohibited areas.
As these new restricted and prohibited areas are added, it is absolutely imperative that pilots check all notams. If implemented as rapidly as AOPA expects, the new areas will not be shown on current charts nor be listed immediately in GPS databases.
"AOPA will provide information on new restricted and prohibited areas as soon as it is available," said Boyer. "And we will ensure that the FAA uses every possible means to make sure pilots have current and accurate information. The consequences of miscommunication now could be deadly."
AOPA has obtained an advance copy of an FAA questions and answers document to explain the new policy.