D.C. heliport awaits OK to reopen

 - September 26, 2006, 5:36 AM

Despite having been required to submit a “Category X” airport security plan to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) more than a year ago, Washington, D.C.’s South Capitol Street Heliport remains closed to nongovernment traffic.

The heliport is located along the Anacostia River about 1.5 miles south of the Capitol and two miles southeast of the White House. That proximity to “protected ground assets” is undoubtedly hindering any movement on the part of federal security agencies.

A spokesman at the heliport said the facility is “squeaking by” pumping fuel for helicopters operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and for a Washington Metropolitan Police Air Service helicopter based at the heliport. Glenwood Aviation, the FBO, is in the process of securing a contract from the Department of Energy to begin fueling any military aircraft with a fuel card.

Category X is a security classification used for major airline airports, of which there are about two dozen in the U.S. As part of its Category X application, Glenwood identified 37 companies that it said indicated a desire to use the heliport.

The FBO submitted the Category X “helicopter security procedures” package to the TSA in November 2004 but has heard nothing since then.

The TSA initially asked the FBO to develop heliport security procedures in 2002 after the agency scrapped a waiver program that permitted Part 135 operations. Glenwood developed those guidelines with the assistance of a former chief pilot for the Maryland State Police and submitted the 15-page document to the TSA near the end of 2002.

Three other general aviation airports that are located within the Washington flight-restricted zone have been granted limited transient access.