The NBAA reports that with the arrival of spring and more VFR days, the government has seen a dramatic increase in the weekend violations of the Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) around Washington, DC and New York City, when compared to VFR winter weekends. This gives the Feds reason to get antsy, and the Office of Homeland Security has another excuse to curtail our right to fly!
The really sad thing about this announcement is that most of the violations have occurred when VFR pilots transition into the ADIZ without following the proper procedures prior to exiting the traffic pattern or wander into the ADIZ while enroute. While AOPA is right (the directions aren’t exactly clear), we’re still mucking things up by cutting the margins too close, and drawing too much attention from the Feds as a result.
AT THIS RATE, IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE SOMEONE GETS INTO TROUBLE. All it will take is a pilot who ignores the ADIZ or TFR situation completely, neglects flight planning, and gets too close on a sightseeing trip to something important. The Feds WILL launch an intercept. We know this, because they have. From that point, we’re just a few mess-ups away from a shootdown incident. What if…
- The pilot strays too far off course into a protected area, and
- The plane suffers a stuck mic, making it impossible for ATC or the military to make contact with them in time, and
- The military is too far away on the scramble to get there before the plane gets too close to a critical area, and
- The plane gets so close to the sensitive area that the military’s only recourse is to assume the flight is hostile, and…
FOX 1 – Missile Away!
THEN WE ALL GET TO HAVE A BAD DAY — AND ONE PILOT (plus passengers) GETS TO HAVE A REALLY BAD DAY.
AVOID ADIZ AND TFR VIOLATIONS
The NBAA recommends that corporate operators file IFR, if possible, when passing through or near the New York and Washington areas. This provides positive control of the flight, and maintains contact with ATC. I’ll add in the suggestion try to keep track of our President’s schedule — and to stay 100 miles away wherever it takes him.
REMEMBER THE RULES WHEN FLYING IN TFRs!
A. AIRCRAFT OPERATING WITHIN THE TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTION SHALL:
- Be on an active IFR or VFR Flight Plan with a discrete transponder code assigned by ATC.
- Remain in two-way radio communications with ATC.
- Flights within the TFR areas are for ingress and egress only. No transient flights are allowed.
- Avoid the TFR site unless you receive U.S. Secret Service Authorization by calling the appropriate phone number listed in the NOTAM.
WAIT, IT GETS BETTER — THESE RULES ARE FLUID!
They don’t apply to the Washington TFR, and may not apply to other TFRs. Your only solution and protection is through good flight planning. Read the NOTAMS and be sure you understand them.
For non-instrument rated pilots really good flight planning is a must. Note the area claimed by any ADIZ airspace and avoid it by at least 10 miles — 20 miles if possible — and file and FOLLOW a VFR Flight Plan. INSIST ON VFR FLIGHT FOLLOWING TO BE IN COMPLIANCE! (For more information, visit the National Business Aviation Association.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING, KNOW WHERE THE ADIZ(S) ARE, KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. If you aren’t sure of ADIZ or TFR boundaries, have a look at the graphics available on the FAA’s web site, ask Flight Service to help you make a map of them, or check out the maps that are available on various flight planning pages such as DTC DUAT at http://www.duat.com. The bottom line here is simple: GET ORIENTED BEFORE YOU GO, OR YOU MAY BLOW IT FOR EVERYONE – AND YOURSELF.