At Ease in the ADIZ: Flying in the Washington DC Metroby
Reprinted with permission from
Security-related procedures and requirements are a fact of
life for today's pilots, especially those who operate in the
Washington, DC metropolitan area Air Defense Identification
Zone (DC ADIZ) and the DC metropolitan Flight Restricted Zone
(DC FRZ). In the continuing effort to balance security requirements
with the needs of the flying public, however, the FAA coordinated
with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to make
changes that will significantly reduce the "footprint" of the
DC ADIZ and DC FRZ.
Effective 0500Z August 30, 2007, the DC ADIZ is defined as
a 30 nautical mile ring centered on the DCA VOR/DME. It begins
at the surface and extends up to, but does not include, FL 180.
The new DC ADIZ, designed to be safer and easier for pilots
to navigate, is a circular 30-nautical-mile-radius restricted
area, which eliminates the "mouse ears" shape of the former
DC ADIZ. Because it is centered on the DCA VOR/DME, it allows
pilots to use a single navigational aid instead of the four
in use today. It also frees 33 airports and helipads in approximately
1,800 square miles of airspace, significantly reducing the economic
impact on the general aviation community. These changes address
many of the issues identified in the more than 20,000 public
comments on the FAA's 2006 proposal to make the DC ADIZ permanent.
This article summarizes the requirements and procedures for
operating to, from, through, and within the DC ADIZ and the
DC FRZ. These requirements and procedures are described in detail
in three separate Notices to Airmen (NOTAM): FDC 7/0206 covers
the DC ADIZ; FDC 7/0211 covers the DC FRZ; and FDC 7/0204 outlines
the speed restrictions applicable to Visual Flight Rules (VFR)
flight in the area from 30 nm to 60 nm from the DCA VOR/DME.
Remember, though, that the NOTAMs are the only official source
for this information. Since changes can occur on very short
notice, you must always check NOTAMs with Flight Service or
DUAT/DUATS before every flight. You can also find NOTAM information,
including graphical temporary flight restriction (TFR) data,
on the FAA Web site at: http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.
For any aircraft operation in the DC ADIZ, standard requirements
include the following:
Operating transponder with altitude reporting (Mode C)
Flight plan appropriate to intended operation (see below)
Discrete transponder code (with certain exceptions)
Use of 1200 code is never authorized in the DC ADIZ!
Speed restrictions for VFR Maximum of 180 KIAS inside the
DC ADIZ (within 30 nm of DCA VOR/DME) Maximum of 230 KIAS from
30 nm to 60 nm from DCA VOR/DME
Communication with air traffic control (ATC) (with certain
Monitor guard, if able (VHF 121.5; UHF 243.0).
The DC ADIZ is generally "transparent" to pilots operating
under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), but there are several important
points to remember. First, you must meet the standard requirements
described above. Second'and very important'is that you must
file and activate your IFR flight plan before entering the DC
ADIZ. This point is especially important for pilots who are
departing IFR from a non-towered airport inside the DC ADIZ.
Even if weather conditions permit a VFR departure, remember
that you must squawk a discrete transponder code before takeoff.
Special procedures for Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO) entry/exit,"
fringe" airport exit, and airport traffic pattern work are described
later in this article. For all other operations to, from, through,
or within the DC ADIZ, you must comply with the standard requirements
listed above, including the DC ADIZ flight plan.
A DC ADIZ flight plan for VFR operations in the DC ADIZ is
separate and distinct from a standard VFR flight plan. A DC
ADIZ flight plan is filed with Flight Service or on DUAT/DUATS
for the sole purpose of complying with the security requirements
for VFR operations to, from, or through the DC ADIZ. When filing
a DC ADIZ flight plan, VFR pilots should specify the entry or
exit "gate" closest to the intended point of DC ADIZ entry or
departure. These directional entry/exit gates have been established
for pilots to use in (a) filing DC ADIZ flight plans (b) establishing
two-way radio communications with ATC, and (c) avoiding congestion
over specific points. Both VOR radials and prominent visual
landmarks define the gate boundaries. Each gate will be associated
with at least one dedicated ATC frequency. To use the gates:
Inbound VFR pilots should file the gate closest to the area
of intended entry into the DC ADIZ as the "departure" point
on the standard flight plan form (Block 5 of FAA Form 7233-1),
and file the airport of intended landing as the "destination"
point. The pilot may approach the DC ADIZ boundary from any
part of the defined gate, call ATC on the frequency associated
with that gate; and squawk the assigned discrete code prior
to DC ADIZ entry.
Outbound VFR pilots should file the gate closest to the DC
ADIZ exit point as the "destination" point on the standard flight
plan form (Block 9 of FAA Form 7233-1); call ATC to obtain a
discrete transponder code prior to takeoff, continuously squawk
that code until well clear of the DC ADIZ; and establish and
maintain two-way radio communication with ATC while in the DC
Transiting VFR pilots must comply with all requirements previously
described for VFR operations inside the DC ADIZ. In the DC ADIZ
flight plan, list the gate appropriate to the intended point
of DC ADIZ entry as the "departure" point, and the gate appropriate
to the intended point of DC ADIZ exit as the "destination" point.
Transiting VFR pilots must remain clear of the DC FRZ, unless
they comply with requirements for DC FRZ entry, and remain clear
of the Class B airspace, unless they request and receive an
explicit Class B clearance.
As explained in the NOTAMs, the DC ADIZ flight plan does
not provide search and rescue, ATC basic radar services, or
flight following. Workload permitting, ATC will provide these
services to VFR pilots inside the DC ADIZ upon request. VFR
pilots who want the search and rescue protections of a standard
VFR flight plan must separately file a VFR flight plan with
Flight Service or via DUAT/DUATS and activate it by calling
Flight Service after takeoff.
Special Procedures for Leesburg and Fringe Airports
Special procedures have been established for pilots landing
at, or departing from, the Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO).
The NOTAM establishing the DC ADIZ very precisely defines a
"JYO maneuvering area" for the purpose of JYO entry/exit, and
pilots using these procedures for landing at, or departing from,
JYO must remain within its boundaries.
Departing Leesburg Pilots must:
File a DC ADIZ flight plan, listing /X as the equipment code.
Squawk 1226 prior to takeoff from Leesburg (JYO).
Activate the DC ADIZ flight plan by announcing aircraft call
sign, aircraft type, and intended departure runway on the published
CTAF prior to takeoff.
Exit the DC ADIZ via the most direct route through the JYO
maneuvering area. The DC ADIZ flight plan for departure from
JYO is considered closed when the aircraft has exited the DC
Arriving at Leesburg Pilots must:
File a DC ADIZ flight plan listing /X as the equipment code.
Squawk 1227 prior to entering the DC ADIZ.
Activate the DC ADIZ flight plan by announcing aircraft call
sign, aircraft type, and intended landing runway on the published
CTAF prior to entering the DC ADIZ.
Enter the DC ADIZ via the most direct route through the JYO
maneuvering area. The DC ADIZ flight plan is considered closed
when the aircraft has landed at JYO.
Fringe Airport Procedures
Special exit procedures have also been established for pilots
departing the DC ADIZ from the following airports:
Flying M Farms (MD77)
Mountain Road (MD43)
Vint Hill Farms Station (04VA)
Pilots departing the DC ADIZ from one of the fringe airports
listed above must:
Squawk 1205 prior to takeoff from a fringe airport.
Exit the DC ADIZ via the most direct route before proceeding
Monitor Guard on 121.5.
Pilots entering the DC ADIZ to land at one of these airports
must comply with the standard DC ADIZ procedures described earlier.
VFR Traffic Pattern Procedures
Towered Airport Pattern Procedures: To conduct VFR traffic
pattern operations (not including practice instrument approaches)
at a towered airport within the DC ADIZ, pilots must:
Ask the tower for closed pattern work before takeoff.
Remain in two-way communication with the tower.
Non-Towered Airport Pattern Procedures
To conduct VFR traffic pattern operations (not including
practice instrument approaches) at a non-towered airport within
the DC ADIZ, pilots must:
File a DC ADIZ flight plan for pattern work.
Obtain a discrete transponder code from ATC prior to takeoff.
Continuously squawk that code while operating in the VFR
Communicate pattern position via the published CTAF.
Have the ability to monitor Guard on 121.5.
Pilots conducting traffic pattern operations within the DC
ADIZ may not depart the airport traffic pattern or conduct any
other flight operations within the DC ADIZ without complying
with standard DC ADIZ procedures.
DC Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ)
The Washington DC Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) is within,
and part of, the DC ADIZ, but this area is subject to additional
security requirements and procedures. The NOTAM that establishes
the DC FRZ precisely defines the dimensions of the DC FRZ. Flight
operations under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations parts
91, 101, 103, 105, 125, 133, and 137 are prohibited in the DC
FRZ unless specifically authorized by a waiver. In general,
therefore, general aviation pilots operating under VFR should
think of the DC FRZ as a "no-fly" area.
There are three general aviation airports located within
the DC FRZ: College Park (CGS), Potomac (VKX), and Washington
Executive/Hyde Field (W32). Pilots operating to or from the
Maryland 3 are subject to certain additional security procedures
established by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Editor's note: Information on obtaing waivers can be found at http://www.tsa.gov/stakeholders/airspace-waivers-0. Pilots seeking to operate to or from one of these airports should
pay close attention to all procedures outlined in the DC FRZNOTAM
Lost Transponder or Com
Pilots who become aware of an inability to continuously squawk
the ATC assigned transponder code must immediately request instructions
from ATC. If unable to contact ATC, the pilot must exit the
DC ADIZ by the most direct lateral route.
For additional information and guidance material on operating
in the DC ADIZ, please take the online training course ("Navigating
the New DC ADIZ") located in the Aviation Learning Center at
Susan Parson is a special assistant in Flight Standards Service's
General Aviation and Commercial Division.
The information presented in this article was current at
the time this magazine was published. For the most current information,
check NOTAMs at