Aviation Safety Letter 4/2004

Flying Through Washington, D.C.? You Better Read This First.

by Nora Vallée, Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, Regulatory Services, Transport Canada

The Aviation Enforcement Division has conducted several investigations of airspace incursions by Canadian pilots in the highly protected Washington, D.C., air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated this ADIZ as requiring special security instructions and emergency air traffic rules. The Washington, D.C., ADIZ, as described in NOTAM 3/2126, is an area where the ready identification, location and control of aircraft are required in the interest of national security. The outcome of an unauthorized flight into the Washington, D.C., ADIZ could be very serious. The offender could be intercepted with harsh consequences because of the particularly sensitive environment. In all cases, pilots might be subject to enforcement actions either by Transport Canada or the FAA.

Today's extremely challenging flying environment requires a thorough knowledge of the aviation regulations and NOTAMs. It is essential for pilots planning to fly in the vicinity of the Washington, D.C., ADIZ to be aware of the applicable mandatory procedures. NOTAM 3/2126 required, in part, that civil aircraft operating in the ADIZ file and activate a flight plan, obtain a discrete transponder code from air traffic control (ATC), continuously transmit the discrete code, and establish two-way radio communications with the appropriate ATC facility before entering the ADIZ airspace. It is also very important to plot the ADIZ airspace on your map before flying in this area, as the ADIZ is not shown on the map. According to pilots' comments received during the investigations, it might be difficult to assess where you enter the zone, especially if you fly VFR. Furthermore, as there are many airports within the ADIZ, it is important to be familiar with the different procedures established at each location.

The American Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has put together an excellent online presentation, which explains the procedure for flying into or around the Washington, D.C., ADIZ. Check out www.aopa.org/adiz/adiz.html! link to NOTAM 3/2126, discussed above.

Remember that it is the pilot's responsibility to get all the pertinent information and to understand the procedure when flying into the Washington, D.C., ADIZ. Hopefully this information will greatly assist Canadian pilots who plan to fly near or through Washington, D.C.

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