In springtime, as clear skies and sunny days beckon, it is important for pilots to stay vigilant about airspace restrictions—particularly around security-conscious areas such as the nation’s capital. Two single-engine general aviation aircraft that wandered into the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) April 24 underscore the importance of knowing the types of airspace that lie in your path before you leave the ground. The FRZ airspace violations led to brief security alerts in the capital area.
“As pilots, it is absolutely essential that we adhere to the D.C.-area airspace security requirements,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. He said failing to comply with the requirements for the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) and FRZ could have serious consequences and threaten our access to airspace.
Anyone planning to fly within 60 nautical miles of the DCA VOR/DME must complete the FAA’s online training course, “ Navigating the DC Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).”
Pilots that enter the 30-nm-radius SFRA, formerly known as the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), must also follow special procedures.
Security requirements for the FRZ, the area within a 13- to15-nm radius of the Washington, D.C., VOR/DME, are extensive. Pilots must go through a special clearance process with the Transportation Security Administration and be issued a personal identification number (PIN) before they are allowed to fly into or out of airports located in the FRZ.
In today’s complex and frequently changing airspace environment, infractions can carry serious consequences. Consider the AOPA Legal Services Plan for protection. For more information, visit AOPA Online.