AOPA has expressed serious concerns about a new letter to airmen issued by Potomac approach control requiring pilots flying in traffic patterns of nontowered airports within the Washington special flight rules area (SFRA) to report their flight’s completion on a “provided telephone number.” Radio reports of termination will no longer be accepted.
The Washington SFRA is a 30-nm radius around the DCA VOR/DME, comprising almost 3,000 sq mi, from the surface to FL180. Potomac Tracon said the change in reporting procedure was in response to security officials in the National Capital Region Command Center pressing ATC for expedited identification of aircraft flying in traffic patterns within the SFRA–preferably through a single point of contact.
The letter to airmen from the facility instructs pilots to obtain a discrete beacon code via radio or telephone before departure. If airborne, the pilot must inform ATC of the intent to conduct pattern work before being switched to the common traffic advisory frequency. “When terminating pattern operations pilots must inform ATC they have completed their pattern work by calling Potomac approach by telephone at (540) 351-6129,” said the letter, which has an effective date of November 5.