The FAA this afternoon has delivered on what the Transportation Security Administration told AOPA this morning—the New York Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the downtown Chicago temporary flight restriction (TFR) are now rescinded. The FAA published the cancellation notams this afternoon at 3:28 p.m. EDT. TSA said the restrictions were eliminated because of the reduced threat of terrorism now that major hostilities in Iraq have ceased and the threat level has been reduced to "yellow."
"AOPA is pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has taken this action," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Ever since the ADIZ areas were established this past winter, AOPA has been campaigning for the restrictions to be eliminated as soon as the threat level was reduced. With today's action, we can claim partial success, but we question why we are not seeing a similar lifting of the Washington, D.C., ADIZ."
AOPA has been relentless in insisting to government officials that airspace restrictions be tied to specific, credible threats. On Wednesday, just hours after the threat level was lowered, Boyer sent a strongly worded letter to the Department of Homeland Security, demanding that the ADIZ areas be lifted. Last week AOPA pressed that message in meetings with various security agencies and members of Congress.
"I'm firmly convinced our constant pressure—particularly with the power of nearly 400,000 members behind us—kept GA pilots' concerns about these restricted areas at the forefront of officials' minds," said Boyer. "And we'll keep pressing on the Washington ADIZ."
That will be an important topic during an AOPA meeting early next week with Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security under secretary responsible for aviation issues. "The ADIZ was established when the terrorist threat level was increased to orange in February and should likewise be removed now that the threat level is back to yellow," said Boyer.
For now, though, all of the existing operating requirements for the Washington ADIZ remain in effect. This means pilots must file a flight plan, obtain a discrete transponder code, and be in two-way radio communication with air traffic control.
However, TSA will make some modifications to ease the burden on pilots operating from the DC-3 airports (College Park, Washington Executive/Hyde Field, and Potomac Airport). DC-3-based pilots will no longer need to use gateway airports or screening procedures.
In addition, TSA will reinstate waivers to the National Capital Region, which primarily affects international general aviation flights. And the agency will reinstate waivers to the sporting events notam, although this will provide no relief for banner towers because they are banned for one year by federal legislation from receiving stadium waivers. The sporting event waivers will primarily benefit broadcasters and VIPs and athletes who want to fly to the event.