"Enough is enough!" That's AOPA's response to New Jersey Congressman Steven Rothman's (D-N.J.) proposal to ban general aviation flight within 15 nm of New York City. Rothman has sent a letter to Congress asking for support; AOPA President Phil Boyer responded immediately with a letter to Congress, defending general aviation.
"Enough is enough!" Boyer's letter begins. "What further burden must general aviation bear when it has never been used as a weapon of terror? Is this another opportunity for 'security' to camouflage a congressman's long-term desire to limit operations at airports in his district?" (Rothman has a long history of opposition to the high volume of predominantly large corporate aircraft at Teterboro Airport (TEB), which would fall in the proposed no-fly zone.)
"Congress has tasked the Transportation Security Administration with the duty of overseeing our security in the skies and at our airports," Boyer told Congress. "Let them do their job!"
Rothman, according to Boyer, has "ignored the extensive network of existing restrictions put in place by a highly qualified inter-agency group: the FAA, TSA, Secret Service, FBI, Department of Defense, and Customs and Immigration."
The 30-mile air defense identification zone (ADIZ) around New York already contains significant protections: two-way communications with air traffic control before entering the ADIZ, discrete transponder codes to easily identify individual aircraft within the ADIZ, flight plans for entering or departing the ADIZ when the national security level is at Code Orange; previously existing temporary flight restrictions around the sports venues Rothman says need protecting.
"Representative Rothman ignores the fact that the majority of GA aircraft do not have the speed or velocity to do significant damage to a building or structure," Boyer said. "Moreover, use of such aircraft to dispense biological or chemical weapons would be inefficient at best and most likely ineffectual."
The proposal would effectively close at least a dozen airports, four times as many as are affected by the Washington no-fly zone, and causing a huge economic impact.
"His comparisons to our nation's capital airspace restrictions being duplicated in New York City do not take into account the economic damage three small closed airports [located within the Washington no-fly zone] have suffered," Boyer said. "Their size and scope pale in comparison to the 12 large general aviation airports that would be affected by the congressman's request."
"I urge you to not support Representative Steven Rothman's (D-N.J.) request to close airspace and effectively close off more than 12 public-use airports in a 15-mile perimeter around New York City," Boyer told Congress.