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Trinity County
Don't Go There!

From AvWeb 11/13/03

TFRs, ASRS, And Avoiding Enforcement Action...

The pilot who plodded along in a Mooney M20 above the Potomac River on Monday morning (11/10/03) flew within eight miles of the White House, and managed to intrude not only into the Air Defense Identification Zone, but also its inner ring, the Flight Restricted Zone, which extends in a radius of 15 nm from the Washington Monument.

In some cases of piloting errors, filing a reporting form within the Aviation Safety Reporting System can sometimes offer some level of "immunity" -- against sanctions, not against prosecution.

FAA, spokesman William Shumann told AVweb, "In those cases where a penalty was imposed even though an ASRS report was filed, it might be because the pilot didn't check NOTAMs or otherwise comply with FAR 91.103, which requires a pilot to 'become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.'" As for satisfying those requirements, "If one wants to be legalistic, the Automated Flight Service Stations are the only 'official' source of information, and DUAT is the only 'authorized' source outside of AFSS," but that applies only to Part 121 and 135 -- not Part 91 operators.

Part 91 operators "can use whatever sources of weather and other information they wish to meet the requirement of getting all the information necessary for a safe flight," said Shumann. Concerned Part 91 operators may feel more comfortable using only the "official" sources listed above -- regardless of the type of operation.

The Washington ADIZ has been there for six months now, and while it has not been decreed a permanent fixture, "There is no indication that it is going to go away anytime soon," says Shumann. So for pilots not only in the Northeast, but anywhere, it goes without saying: check NOTAMS and choose your information sources wisely. And if you ever do find an otherwise friendly F-16 off your wing, don't forget your intercepting signals, and intercept procedures.

...In The Aftermath Of Another Incursion

Could Monday's incursion of White House airspace by a Mooney pilot actually be a blessing in disguise? It may turn out that way if it highlights what's becoming an increasing frustration for the FAA -- and GA pilots. Since Feb. 10, when the ADIZ was put in place in Washington, it has been violated more than 600 times. "Frankly, we're a bit frustrated that pilots are still violating it, and we don't know why," the FAA's William Shumann told AVweb yesterday. "It's on the charts, it's on our Web site."

Pilots who violate the ADIZ (so far none have been discovered to be full-fledged evil-doers, or even to harbor any ill-intent) generally get a 30- to 90-day suspension of their certificate, Shumann said, but each case is handled individually. The range of possibilities does include revocation. It might be more understandable that pilots can be tripped up by Temporary Flight Restrictions that appear with no warning (like those that follow the president), but it seems it would be tough to miss the ADIZ and the FRZ. The FRZ has been violated much less often than the ADIZ, Shumann said.

Jean Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, told The New York Times the pilot had thought he was abiding by the flight restrictions around Washington, not realizing they had been changed after the terrorist attacks. The Secret Service was satisfied that he had not intended any harm, Mitchell told the Times.

[TCPA Editor: Let's be careful. Check for NOTAMs before EVERY flight.]