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Congressional Research Service questions ADIZCongressional Research Service questions ADIZ

Congressional Research Service questions ADIZ

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The Washington, D.C., ADIZ
with Flight Restricted Zone

The highly respected Congressional Research Service (CRS) has raised questions concerning the effectiveness of the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and its effects on general aviation.

"Detailed risk-based assessment, examining the various different types of GA operations conducted in the [National Capital Region], may be undertaken to identify airspace controls and alternative security measures that strike an appropriate balance between meeting security needs and maintaining a vibrant GA industry in the region," the service said in a report for Congress.

"This certainly reinforces AOPA's position that one size doesn't fit all," said Phil Boyer, AOPA president. "A small, slow, light GA aircraft is not a significant threat and shouldn't be treated the same as a much faster, much heavier airplane like an airliner.

"The FAA's proposal to make the ADIZ permanent is unnecessary and will continue to harm general aviation."

The CRS is the nonpartisan, public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress. It provides federal lawmakers with comprehensive, objective, and reliable analysis, research, and information services. Its staff includes nationally recognized experts in its research fields.

The CRS report notes that "the ADIZ came into existence, not immediately following September 11, 2001, as many mistakenly assume, but rather as a part of Operation Liberty Shield, launched by the [Department of Homeland Security] to enhance homeland security during the build-up toward the war in Iraq. The Washington ADIZ was established as a temporary flight restriction...."

CRS said that the ADIZ is frequently "oversimplified" in policy discussions, viewed as simply a 30-nautical-mile ring around Washington, D.C. But the ADIZ dimensions are actually considerably larger, with a lateral extent of "more than 3,000 square nautical miles."

And it costs the taxpayers a lot to run the ADIZ. The FAA alone spends about $11 million a year to cover the extra personnel and resource costs imposed by the ADIZ.

"However, questions remain regarding whether less costly alternatives could provide equally adequate protections," said the CRS.

The report also noted that all but one of the GA incursions into the ADIZ have been inadvertent, and that pilot training is an important tool. "In fact, significant efforts have been made already by user groups such as the AOPA, in coordination with the FAA, to increase pilot awareness and understanding of the airspace restrictions."

And while "more controversial" options to counter airspace violations such as stiffer penalties and stepped-up enforcement are under consideration, "User groups oppose additional punitive actions beyond those already available to the FAA and point out that the threat of a shoot-down is already a strong enough deterrent for pilots to take heed," said the CRS.

And to the FAA proposal to make the Washington, D.C., ADIZ permanent, the CRS told Congress, "GA user groups, who had hoped the temporary restrictions would be eased or lifted, have decried this move as largely unnecessary and overly restrictive and fear that the proposal would negatively impact GA pilots and further jeopardize aviation-related businesses in the region."

( See how an ADIZ could affect your flying.)

September 22, 2005

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