Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Friday afternoon that the federal government has raised the terror alert to code orange, meaning a "high" danger of attack. That level requires government agencies to increase their security efforts.
TSA and the FAA are at this hour compiling a new notam that will increase airspace restrictions in and adjacent to the Baltimore-Washington Class B area. Pilots must check notams immediately prior to every flight. AOPA will post the new notam as soon as the FAA releases it.
In a conference call to key transportation industry leaders, including AOPA, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Gordon England said the government had intelligence from multiple sources that the threat of terrorism in the United States and the Middle East was the highest it has been since the 9/11 attacks. While there is no specific information, the energy sector (refineries, tank farms, etc.) transportation infrastructure (bridges, tunnels, etc.), and civil aviation are considered the most likely targets. Terrorists may also go after "soft targets" such as hotels and malls.
Pilots have a critical role to play during this time of heightened vigilance, which is why AOPA has formed Airport Watch. Pilots are urged to be alert for suspicious activities at their airports and report them to the national, toll-free hotline 866/GA-SECURE or local law enforcement. The Airport Watch brochure, which is already in the hands of more than 390,000 members, details some of the things pilots should watch for and actions pilots can take to secure their aircraft.