Air National Guard fighter pilots on Monday intercepted a general aviation aircraft that had violated the no-fly zone at the heart of the Baltimore-Washington Air Defense Identification Zone, determined that the aircraft posed no threat, and escorted the pilot out.
"While we don't yet know why the aircraft strayed into the ADIZ, the system worked as designed," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Air traffic controllers identified a potential threat. The military responded with appropriate force and appropriate restraint and, after determining that the pilot posed no threat, escorted him out of the ADIZ and let him go on his way."
What convinced the fighter pilots that it was an inadvertent incursion was apparently that the GA pilot saw and complied with their intercept signals. (The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has prepared an intercept procedures card.)
AOPA continues to remind pilots that it is their obligation to know about and avoid all flight-restricted areas. And the association has been extraordinarily proactive in providing pilots with the tools and information they need to do so, including the new AOPA Real Time Flight Planner, which provides up-to-minute graphical depictions of temporary flight restriction (TFR) locations.
"AOPA continues to have concerns about the operational impact of the ADIZ on both pilots and air traffic controllers," said Boyer. "All the same, we've put a lot of effort into educating pilots about it.
"Our new online ADIZ course explains the requirements for operating in or transitioning through the Washington-Baltimore area.
"The Air Safety Foundation completely redesigned its airspace education program, Know Before You Go , to include both ADIZ and other security TFR operations.
"And we remind pilots at every opportunity that it is their obligation to know and understand the airspace through which they're flying."