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Thu, May 12, 2005

NBAA: Incursion Proves The System Worked

Cessna Was Identified And Turned Away According To Plan

You might consider NBAA President Ed Bolen an optimist. Caught on Capitol Hill during Wednesday's evacuation -- a scramble caused by a Cessna 150K's incursion deep into the Washington ADIZ, Bolen told ANN the incident proves the system works.

"I would hope that it would have no impact on efforts to open DCA to business aircraft," he told ANN Thursday.

Although Homeland Security authorities indicated Thursday that the air scare near that forced the evacuation of the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court might have an adverse impact on attempts to reopen Reagan National Airport (DCA) to business aviation traffic, Bolen suggested such a move wouldn't make sense.

"All of the business aircraft interested in going to Reagan National would be known to the community in advance, would follow security procedures, would be tracked and communicating with security agencies well in advance of ever approaching the DC area," he said. "What happened yesterday was, perhaps, a suggestion that the system worked."

As the unidentified aircraft approached Washington without acknowledging attempts to communicate, Bolen said, the anti-terror alert system kicked in, fighters were scrambled, important people were evacuated and the aircraft was successfully intercepted.

"The security community immediately identified that aircraft and immediately intervened. I think the system worked. Keep in mind that, while the security groups were intervening with the Cessna 150, commercial operations were continuing at Reagan National Airport. And they were continuing securely because those flights were expected, they were known, they had been identified and were in communication."

That being the case, said Bolen, then business aircraft could have operated just as efficiently and securely as the commercial flights that were unaffected by the incursion.

"I think you have to say yesterday's event should have no impact on business aviation's effort to get back into Reagan National," Bolen said.

Like his counterparts at other "alphabet groups" with whom ANN spoke on Thursday, Bolen expressed puzzlement at the ADIZ incursion. "It's difficult to understand how the pilots strayed into restricted airspace over Washington, DC. Certainly, it's regrettable that it caused the evacuations and the kind of concerns that resulted," he said. "When you see something that has a lot of people in the industry shaking their heads... there was nothing about it that helped general aviation. But having said that," Bolen emphasized, "the system did work."

FMI: www.nbaa.org

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