Re-opening DCA to General Aviation Could Become Law

 - February 1, 2007, 9:13 AM

Last month, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) introduced bills to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, respectively, that would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Transportation to draw up regulations to re-open Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to general aviation. Such regulations would have to be prepared within six months of the bill becoming law. According to a spokesman for the National Air Transportation Association, the draft of the bills contains language that could require conditions for access, including screening of all flights entering the airport, physical inspections of aircraft, advance clearance of passenger manifests by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and limiting the airports from which flights into DCA can originate. The next step is to forward the legislation for consideration by the appropriate committees having oversight of this issue.

As part of the FY2005 DHS appropriations measure approved by Congress last October, the DHS, in conjunction with the TSA and Secret Service, was required to provide a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations by March 1 on the status of restoring access to Reagan National for security-qualified charter and general aviation operators. Except for certain special situations, general aviation has been banned from using the airport since 9/11.