The FAA on January 13 withdrew the "Mode C Veil Exemption" (SFAR No. 62), which permits aircraft without altitude encoding transponders to operate out of specified satellite airports within 30 nm of a Class B airspace primary airport. It's not yet known if the FAA is going to start immediately enforcing the provisions of FAR 91.215, requiring all electrically equipped aircraft to have Mode C transponders when operating within a Mode C veil.
SFAR No. 62 lists some 300 airports that are outside Class B airspace but within a Mode C veil. The rule allowed aircraft to operate to those airports without an encoding transponder provided they flew below specified altitudes and followed the most direct routes in and out of veil area.
The exemption had actually expired in 1993, but in 1994, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to extend SFAR No. 62. With that rulemaking pending, FAA Flight Standards has not enforced the transponder requirements for the exempted airports.
Suddenly, without any advance notice to AOPA and other users, the FAA withdrew the NPRM on Thursday, January 13.
AOPA asked the FAA if and when the agency is going to start enforcing the Mode C transponder requirement within the Mode C veil, how the agency plans to notify pilots of the new policy, and whether individual owners will be able to obtain a "blanket" exemption for non-equipped aircraft.
As of Friday afternoon, the FAA had not responded.
In the meantime, AOPA suggests that owners of non-Mode C-equipped aircraft who need to fly within a 30-nm Mode C veil contact the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the concerned airspace for authorization. (See FAR 91.215). Phone numbers are listed in AOPA's Airport Directory on page 1-27 and are available online.
January 14, 2000