Pilots planning to attend the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s 18th annual Fly-In and Open House should use extra care when planning and executing their flights into Frederick Municipal Airport on Saturday. The FAA is expanding the P-40 prohibited area, making it more vital than ever that pilots know exactly where they are and where their flight path will take them.
“By all means, come to Fly-In,” said AOPA President Phil Boyer, “but be very thorough in your preflight planning. Our goal is zero airspace incursions in spite of the challenges thrown our way.”
“AOPA is already seeking ways to alleviate the issue,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “We are speaking directly with the FAA and security agencies to make sure they understand the potential trap they’ve created for Fly-In visitors.”
AOPA is using every communication avenue available to make pilots aware of the temporary flight restriction. “We have already posted information on our Web site,” said Boyer. “We are sending e-mails to every single member for whom we have an address east of the Mississippi River, and to every FBO and flight school in the same area. We’re putting information about the restriction on the automated weather broadcasts that pilots will listen to as they prepare to land at or depart from Frederick Municipal Airport. In short, we’re doing what we do every day—taking every step we can to help pilots abide by airspace rules and regulations and keep the skies safe.”
In addition, AOPA has enlisted the help of the Civil Air Patrol to make sure pilots are aware of the restrictions. The CAP National Headquarters has asked squadrons east of the Mississippi River to station members at airports on Saturday morning and ask pilots if they are headed to the Washington, D.C., area, and ensure they are aware of the expanded P-40 area.
“AOPA has committed to donate $5,000 to CAP if we meet our goal of zero airspace incursions,” said Boyer.
When it expands, the prohibited area grows from a 3-nm radius to a 5-nm radius. In addition, pilots flying in the ring from 5 nm to 10 nm must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan, be in positive radio contact with air traffic control, and use an ATC-assigned discrete transponder code. Pilots who violate the airspace can expect to be intercepted by the U.S. Air Force and questioned by the U.S. Secret Service, and can expect enforcement action by the FAA.
All pilots flying into or departing from Frederick Municipal Airport during the P-40 expansion (3 p.m. EDT, Friday, June 6, until 1 p.m. EDT, Sunday, June 8) should monitor the Guard frequency, 121.5 MHz. And as always, check notams before each and every flight.
The FAA will operate a temporary air traffic control tower at Frederick Municipal Airport on Saturday. Arrival and departure procedures developed in conjunction with the FAA are available online. AOPA has also developed a graphic to show the correct arrival traffic flow to avoid the prohibited area. And finally, to be prepared in case a pilot does accidentally violate the airspace restriction and pick up a fighter escort, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has developed an intercept procedures card, available online.
“Early indications are that we’re going to have great weather this Saturday, so by all means, come,” said Boyer. “Just make sure you’re fully aware of the procedures and the restrictions. Let’s show the FAA and the security folks just how conscientious pilots really are.”