Airport Authority Seeks GA’s Return to DCA

 - February 22, 2010, 7:10 AM

Describing general aviation as “an important part of our aviation infrastructure at Reagan National, James Bennett, president of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, called for a relaxation of restrictions on GA flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

“That’s a very important part of our aviation infrastructure capacity at Reagan National,” he said during a January forum at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments headquarters in Washington. “We’d certainly like to see that returned.”

General aviation was banned at DCA after the 9/11 attacks, but the ban was sort of lifted four years later with introduction of an extremely complex and (for operators) burdensome program under which GA could use DCA. Whereas the airport used to accommodate about 10 to 12 GA flights per hour, it now handles about one or two a day.

Carmine Gallo, FAA regional administrator for the Eastern Region, said aviation officials are holding an “ongoing, aggressive discussion” about general aviation at DCA. Previous entreaties for reopening the airport on a wider basis have mostly fallen on deaf national security ears.

Because of the airport’s proximity to the Pentagon and key landmarks in Washington, “National is an attractive potential terrorist target and requires extraordinary measures,” Gallo said.