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Sat, Aug 23, 2003

Could This Be Our Big Chance?

Probably Not. ADIZ Relocation Program Probably Means Restrictions Are Here To Stay

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Friday said it's very concerned that a program designed for relocating aircraft trapped within the Washington DC Metropolitan Area ADIZ means that the airspace's severely flawed preflight and operational procedures will not be modified or withdrawn in the near future.  The program was announced Wednesday in a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) briefing for aviation industry officials and will be implemented Saturday.

The Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) was established on March 18, 2003, and includes aircraft equipment and operational requirements with which many smaller operators cannot comply.  Those aircraft located within the ADIZ have been grounded since March and others are prevented from operating to or from airports within the airspace.  The TSA relocation program is designed to allow operators of those aircraft to remove them from the ADIZ under controlled conditions.

"While we are grateful that the TSA and others within the federal government will allow these aircraft to be flown out of the ADIZ, we are equally concerned that nothing is being done to address the many flaws in the airspace designation and its operational procedures," said Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside, NATA vice president for government and industry affairs.  "Now is an excellent opportunity to revise these procedures and reduce the burden on aircraft operators in and around the Washington area as well as those who fly to their nation's capital from elsewhere in the U.S."

Current requirements for operating within the ADIZ include a discrete transponder code and two-way voice communications capability for flights remaining in an airport's traffic pattern.  For flights from one airport to another or those that enter or depart the ADIZ, a flight plan and related ATC clearance are also required.  These requirements are at the root of the problems experienced by operators of poorly equipped aircraft and the need for the relocation program.  The requirements are also responsible for overloading the area's air traffic control system, which was never designed to handle the increased demand.

"Even presuming that the ADIZ is a useful tool for ensuring aviation security, there are a number of ways the federal government can simplify current procedures," said Burnside.  "Eliminating the flight plan requirement is an excellent place to start, since this has been the source of much confusion and frustration among aircraft operators and the FAA alike."

The TSA's relocation program includes three basic elements.  First is a three-week information collection period starting Saturday, August 23, which is designed to determine where these aircraft are based and how many of them need to be relocated from within the ADIZ.  Second, and once the TSA collects that information, decisions will be made on how and when the relocation can be conducted.  Finally, the actual relocation will be implemented. 

According to the TSA, the following information is requested from affected aircraft operators during the three-week period beginning August 23:

A. Aircraft owner's full name
B. Pilot's full name (if different from aircraft owner)
C. Contact telephone number(s) for A and B above
D. E-mail address(es) for A and B above
E. Aircraft tail number
F. Location of aircraft, including latitude and longitude coordinates
G. Radio capabilities
H. Transponder capabilities

The TSA further asks that all requested information be submitted to the agency no later than 2359 EDT, September 12, 2003, via one of the following:

"While we look forward to working with the TSA and others in the federal government to make this relocation program work well, we remain concerned that the FAA and the TSA are passing up the opportunity to address many of the problems created by the ADIZ," Burnside concluded.



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