The new policy, which went into effect May 17, affects pilots applying for a secure personal identification number for operating to and from College Park Airport in College Park, Maryland; Potomac Airfield in Friendly, Maryland; and Washington Executive Airport/Hyde Field in Clinton, Maryland.
The FSDO visit, the second step of a four-step vetting process, required scheduling an appointment, and presenting government-issued photo identification, an airman certificate, medical certificate, and proof of completion of step one—the Special Awareness Training course for operating within the SFRA.
For more than five years, AOPA had urged that the policy for access to the so-called “Maryland Three” or “DC-3” airports be modified. First, AOPA was able to make changes to the fingerprinting process. Pilots no longer have to travel to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to be fingerprinted. Instead, the fingerprinting process can be completed at the participating law enforcement agency, or at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, or a participating airport’s badging office. Applicants also can be fingerprinted by any authorized fingerprint collector of the National Air Transportation Association’s NATA Compliance Services.
Now that AOPA also has been able to eliminate the FSDO visit requirement, the association welcomed the new policy announcement, said Nobuyo Sakata, AOPA director of aviation security.
With that provision eliminated, AOPA estimates that a typical pilot will save three hours of travel time to and from a FSDO. Pilots not living in the local area will be spared extensive travel to be approved for operations in the FRZ.
“AOPA has long advocated simplifying the pilot vetting process for the ‘Maryland Three’ program by taking a risk-based approach and using advanced technologies while maintaining the same level of aviation security. Instead of a physical visit to the FSDO, which takes up more of the inspector’s time, the same goal can be accomplished by the TSA office coordinating with the FSDO. The elimination of this step will create a more efficient method,” Sakata said, adding that the policy change also should benefit the FAA and the three airports, without a reduction in security.
Also planned is new informational outreach to pilots. On Aug. 20, Chesapeake Sport Pilot at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland, will offer the safety seminar, “The DC SFRA and FRZ Demystified!” in partnership with AOPA. The seminar, which will review procedures for flights in and around the Washington, D.C., SFRA and FRZ, is designed to prepare pilots to easily use all Washington, D.C.-area airports, including the Maryland Three airports.
Pilots who attend will be able to sign up to have their fingerprints taken on site, getting them well on their way to receiving a secure PIN code for operating in the FRZ. Seating and fingerprinting slots are limited, so please register promptly online.