AOPA: Change Extremely Disappointing and Unjustified
The Federal Aviation Administration has released its final rule
making the Washington, DC Air Defense Identification Zone
(ADIZ) -- the only such zone within the borders of the United
States -- a permanent fixture in American airspace. The change
will come despite congressional inquiries, economic studies, more
than 22,000 written comments from pilot in opposition to the rule,
and an all-out effort by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
to convince officials that the ADIZ is an unreasonable, burdensome
"It's extremely disappointing that the ADIZ -- something
that was hastily implemented as a temporary measure -- has
become federal regulation," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice
president of government affairs. "We have never given up trying to
eliminate the ADIZ, working with security officials, members of
Congress, the White House, and the FAA."
The ADIZ, which was imposed in February 2003, in the weeks
leading up to the Iraq War, will become the Washington, DC
Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area starting in mid- to
late February. A similar ADIZ was imposed over New York City at the
same time, but was rescinded in April 2003 as no longer
The dimensions and operational rules for the Special Flight
Rules Area will remain the same as the current
30-nautical-mile-radius ADIZ remains the same, which extends from
the surface up to 18,000 feet, and includes an outer ring extending
to 60-nm in which pilots must observe an airspeed limit. Anyone who
willfully violates the ADIZ will still be subject to criminal
Current special procedures that allow easier access to Leesburg
Executive Airport in Leesburg, VA will not be part of the final
rule, but will remain in effect by separate FAA action.
"Operationally, nothing changes for pilots," Cebula said. "But
issuing an ADIZ final rule is a concern because a temporary flight
restriction was imposed without consulting airspace users, and
later made 'permanent' with no documented justification."
FAA and security officials have never provided a specific,
intelligence-based threat assessment to justify to Congress or the
pilot community the design of and procedures required in the ADIZ.
Congress had called on security officials numerous times to testify
about the ADIZ, whether it was necessary, and the economic impact
it was having on airports in the area.
AOPA commissioned an economic study in 2005 that showed that 10
of the 13 airports analyzed inside the ADIZ were losing about $43
million in annually in wages, revenue, taxes, and local
The association was successful in getting the size of the ADIZ
reduced from its original "Mickey Mouse" shape that encompassed the
Baltimore-Washington, DC Class B airspace to its current 30-nm
radius. However, AOPA had also lobbied that it be further reduced
to a 20-nm radius or outright eliminated because the government has
never provided evidence that the ADIZ has resulted in any
measurable increase in security.
"While this is a final rule," Cebula said, "circumstances and
conditions evolve, and rules can be changed."