ADIZ Now a Permanent Washington Landmark

 - December 16, 2008, 11:17 AM

Despite heavy opposition by pilots and aviation alphabet groups, airspace restrictions and procedures implemented around Washington, D.C., after 9/11–namely the 15-nm-radius Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) and 30-nm-radius Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA), both centered at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)–were made permanent under a final rule issued yesterday by the FAA. Operations within the FRZ are restricted to flights authorized by the FAA and TSA. Within the SFRA, pilots must file a flight plan, establish two-way radio communication with ATC and squawk an assigned transponder code. The now-permanent SFRA is smaller than the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that initially went into effect in February 2003, which at the time extended 23 miles out from DCA, Dulles and Baltimore/Washington International Airports. The FAA shrunk the ADIZ in August last year, releasing 33 airports and helipads from the restricted airspace. According to the FAA, the move to the smaller restricted area addressed many of the issues identified in the more than 22,000 public comments on the agency’s proposal. Still, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs Andy Cebula said, “It’s extremely disappointing that the ADIZ–something that was hastily implemented as a temporary measure–has become federal regulation. Issuing an ADIZ final rule is a concern because a temporary flight restriction was imposed, without consulting airspace users, and later made ‘permanent’ with no documented justification.”