It was created in a rush. It was created without consulting the pilots who would have to use it. It was created without funding the resources to make it work. It was created without even knowing if it would work.
It is the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). And it was supposed to be temporary when it was put into place in February 2003. Apparently not.
Not only is Congress considering bills to punish pilots for violating the ADIZ, there is also a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) working its way through the federal government, an NPRM that proposes a permanent ADIZ. Exactly what a permanent ADIZ would look like, government rules prevent officials from saying right now.
But AOPA officials met with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Tuesday to tell them exactly what is wrong with today's "temporary" ADIZ.
"The ADIZ has been an operational disaster, the security reasons were never justified to the pilot community, and alternatives were not considered," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "Pilots continue to express frustration about the difficulties of meeting the requirements to file ADIZ flight plans, to obtain unique transponder codes, and to establish communication with ATC."
There is a law, which AOPA lobbied for, that requires a periodic report to Congress justifying the continuing need for the ADIZ. The security agencies and the FAA have missed almost all of their reporting deadlines, and the few reports submitted admit to operational problems but provide little justification for continuing the ADIZ itself.
AOPA told the OMB officials that pilots weren't consulted, nor were air traffic controllers, before the ADIZ was implemented. Yet those two groups are the keys to making it work.
The federal rulemaking process requires that OMB review a proposed rule before it can be published. OMB is the final "quality check" on a rule, to determine if it is needed, is cost effective, and makes sense. OMB can reject or revise a proposed regulation or send it back to the originating agency for more work.
"The ADIZ NPRM will force the government to spell out all of the reasons why the rule is needed and why the goal can't be accomplished without regulation," said Cebula. "They also have to take and consider public comment, making it essential that the FAA hears from pilots across the country when the NPRM is released."
July 28, 2005