FAA Fact Sheet
Flight-Restricted Zone (FRZ)
Reprinted with permission from FAA Aviation
The Flight-Restricted Zone
(FRZ) extends approximately 15 nautical miles (about 17 statute miles) around
the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The airport is located in
Arlington County, Virginia, four miles from downtown Washington, D.C. The FRZ is
not a perfect circle.
The only non-governmental flights allowed within
the FRZ are scheduled commercial flights into and out of Ronald Reagan
Washington National Airport. Pilots who have been vetted by the Transportation
Security Administration are allowed into the three Maryland general aviation
airports. Other commercial air carrier flights can be vectored into the FRZ by
air traffic controllers. Some news and traffic-reporting aircraft are allowed in
as close as seven miles.
The FRZ has been in effect since the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001. It was initially 25 nautical miles (about 29
statute miles) and was subsequently reduced to 18 nautical miles (about 21
statute miles). It has been a radius of 15 nautical miles for the past three
Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)
The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)
surrounds the FRZ, and extends in radius around the three major metropolitan
airports: Reagan Washington National, Baltimore-Washington International, and
Dulles International. The ADIZ extends approximately 20 nautical miles (about 23
statute miles) around Dulles and Baltimore-Washington, and 30 nautical miles
(about 35 statute miles) around Washington National Airport. Reporters say the
shape of the ADIZ reminds them of Mickey Mouse's head and ears.
The ADIZ was put into effect in February 2003.
There are a number of requirements for aircraft
flying within the ADIZ:
within, into, or out of the ADIZ requires an advance clearance from the
FAA's air traffic control.
flying within the ADIZ must have an altitude-encoding transponder that is
aircraft that is given clearance to fly within the ADIZ is assigned a
four-digit number that identifies the aircraft to air traffic control by
call sign or registration number, aircraft type, destination, etc.
flying within the ADIZ, the pilot must be in direct contact with air traffic
control unless cleared to the local airport traffic advisory frequency.
Prohibited Area 56 (P-56)
P-56A & B are areas surrounding the White House
and the vice president's residence.
The only aircraft that are allowed to fly within
these prohibited areas are specially authorized flights that are in direct
support of the U.S. Secret Service, the Office of the President, or one of
several government agencies with missions that require air support within P-56.
These prohibited areas have been in effect for about 50 years.
P-56A covers approximately the area west of the
Lincoln Memorial (Rock Creek Park) to east of the Capitol (Stanton Square) and
between Independence Ave. and K Street up to 18,000 feet.
P-56B covers a small circle of about 1 nautical
mile (about 1.2 statute miles) surrounding the Naval Observatory on
Massachusetts Ave. up to 18,000 feet.
Temporary Flight Restrictions
The FAA institutes temporary flight restrictions
for hazards to aviation, such as forest fires smoke, volcano plumes, and air
shows, as well as for security reasons. Most temporary flight restrictions (TFRs)
are noted on the FAA home page, <www.faa.gov>,
under 'Graphic TFRs.'
When the president or the vice president flies,
their planes receive priority handling by air traffic control. However, Air
Force One and Two receive standard en-route separation from other aircraft.
At the request of the U.S. Secret Service, the
FAA can restrict airspace around locations where the president is visiting for
TFRs of up to 30 nautical miles in radius and heights of 18,000 feet. Generally,
all flights that have not received special security vetting by the
Transportation Security Agency are prohibited within these TFRs.
Airspace Security Violations
As of May 12, 2005, there have been
approximately 1,682 pilot deviations filed for violations of the restricted
airspace in and around the National Capitol Region since the ADIZ was put in
place February 13, 2003.
As of May 12, 2005, there have been 2,211
security-related airspace violations in the Washington, D.C. area. This includes
violations of the FRZ, P56, P40 (Camp David), and other violations that occurred
before the ADIZ was put into effect.
Pilots are required by FAA regulation to check
in advance for any flight restrictions that may be in effect on or near their
planned routes before they fly. The best way to do this is for pilots to call
their Flight Service Stations before take off for briefings on the weather,
flight restrictions, and anything else that may effect the area in which they
plan to fly. The FAA also issues
Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) to advise
pilots of flight restrictions and other special circumstances (such as closed
runways, restrictions due to volcanic plumes, etc). Both the NOTAMs and most of
the graphic representations of all flight restricted-areas can be found on the
FAA home page, www.faa.gov,
under 'NOTAMs' and 'Graphic TFRs.' The agency has also performed extensive
outreach in coordination with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
The FAA has the authority to take certificate
(suspension or revocation of the pilots' certificate) or civil penalty
(monetary) actions against pilots who violate the federal aviation regulations.
Most of these security related violations result in 30- to 90-day suspensions of
the pilots' FAA certificates. Other agencies may pursue criminal actions if
those are warranted.
Visual Warning System for the ADIZ
NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense
Command) on May 21, 2005, deployed a new warning signal for communicating with
aircraft that have flown into the ADIZ or FRZ. The signal consists of highly
focused red and green colored lights in an alternating red/red/green signal
pattern. This signal will be directed at specific aircraft suspected of making
unauthorized entry into the ADIZ/FRZ and are on a heading or flight path that
may be interpreted as a threat, or that operate contrary to the operating rules
for the ADIZ/FRZ. The beam will not injure the eyes of pilots, aircrews or
passengers, regardless of altitude or distance from the source.
If pilots are in communication with air traffic
control and this signal is directed at their aircraft, they are advised to
immediately tell air traffic control that they are being illuminated by a
visual-warning signal. If this signal is directed at a pilot who is not
communicating with air traffic control, that pilot should turn to a heading away
from the center of the FRZ/ADIZ as soon as possible and immediately contact air
traffic control on an appropriate frequency, or if unsure of the frequency,
contact ATC on VHF guard 121.5 or UHF guard 243.0.
Failure to follow these procedures may result in
interception by military aircraft and/or the use of force. This applies to all
aircraft operating within the ADIZ, including Department of Defense, law
enforcement, and aero medical operations.