FAA security officials report that—as of today—300 pilots cleared the security background check required for approval to fly out of the three closed Washington, D.C.-area airports (College Park Airport [CGS], Potomac Airfield [VKX], and Washington Executive/Hyde Field [W32]). As outlined in the special flight rules (SFAR 94) published February 14, the final hurdle for approved pilots is a mandatory security briefing. This briefing is slated to take place on Friday night, February 22, in Brandywine, Maryland. The FAA reports that Friday's briefing is for approved pilots only but assures AOPA that procedures to expand the approval process, for based pilots who missed the first round of security clearances, are being finalized.
Approved pilots who attend the briefing will be issued confidential pilot identification number (PIN) codes and will be free to fly, contingent on individual airport ground security procedures being in place. The FAA is working closely with airport operators and anticipates that all three airports should be able to meet ground security requirements by tomorrow evening. Approved pilots will be allowed to operate out of their based airport, provided they file an IFR or VFR flight plan with Leesburg Flight Service via the telephone using a confidential PIN code. In addition to following specific arrival and departure procedures, when airborne these flights will remain under close scrutiny and are required to maintain communication with ATC while operating in SFAR 94 airspace.
"AOPA is thrilled that operations will resume as early as tomorrow night," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We applaud the FAA's diligence in implementing procedures that place the least amount of financial and operational hardship on users. As noted in the SFAR, security options including the employment of full-time law enforcement personnel at the airports, a requirement for aircraft to land at gateway airports for inspection, and other burdensome procedures were rejected in favor of common-sense ideas that take advantage of existing airport resources."
Following the SFAR's 60-day test period, it is AOPA's desire to see it expanded in the future with the goal of restoring all general aviation operations at these airports.
Friday night's security briefing will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gwynn Park High School, 13800 Brandywine Road, Brandywine, Maryland. For additional details, contact 301/864-5844.