October 25, 2005
Docket Management Facility
U.S. Department of Transportation
Nassif Building, Room PL?401
400 Seventh St. SW,
Washington, DC, 20590
Subject: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM),
Docket Number: FAA-2004-17005
Our nation strongly developed and used the ADIZ when the USSR threatened with its bomber aircraft. The concept was that we would identify aircraft long before they got to the U.S. territory and, if necessary, destroy any that were either unidentified or determined to be a threat. The ADIZ around Washington, D.C., does not lend itself to this simple concept. This ADIZ is right in the middle of a metropolitan area, an area which draws a great number of visitors, many of them traveling by non-commercial aviation. Transiting this area becomes a problem with the large number of non-commercial aircraft that pass via this area. When we first created the nation?s capital, it was placed in the middle of the 13 original states. That middle point means that there is a lot of cross traffic, passing up and down the Atlantic seaboard.
What this all comes down to is that the Washington ADIZ hampers U.S. commerce and the ability of non-commercial, i.e., general aviation (GA) to be a part of that commerce. Our Congress has, on more than one occasion, asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide justification for the ADIZ. To the best of our knowledge, no such justification has been provided. As for the security threat, neither the DHS nor the DOD has come up with specific information that terrorist groups are planning to use GA to attack our capital ? nor anywhere else in the U.S.
The ADIZ around Washington is, in addition to hampering commerce, a discriminatory rule in that other modes of transportation are not restricted. If there is a continuing security threat to our nation?s capital, why have we not created security controls on other vehicles? Compared to the typical GA aircraft, trucks, buses, and most motorized vehicles are much more capable of use, and more destructive when used, as an explosive bomb. In the 2 ? years that have elapsed since the initial issuing of the Washington?s security precautions, the DHS and DOD?s capabilities to independently protect the metropolitan area should have vastly improved. This improvement should have occurred not only in the resources and technologies allocated to this effort, but also in the interagency coordination and cooperation. Such improvement should have eliminated the continuing and detrimental consequences of the ADIZ which the FAA proposes to make permanent.
As it now exists, to fly in the ADIZ requires that pilots be under positive control and be assigned specific transponder codes. Just obtaining a transponder code from the FAA is time-consuming. A good part of the nation?s GA flying is done in visual conditions, i.e., flying VFR. VFR generally means that a pilot is flying without a flight plan and with little or no ATC control. The nation?s GA pilots have been effective at doing this. The FAA?s Air traffic Control system is not set up for the handling of every GA aircraft that wants to fly in the Washington area. Until the terrorist attack of 9/11, the air traffic system depended the region?s air operations flying VFR and not requiring ATC services. The delays being experienced in the Washington area today are a demonstration of the manpower and equipment limitations that exist at the FAA?s Washington area ATC facility.
Because of the restrictions in the Washington area following 9/11, and now adding the existing and planned permanence of the ADIZ, the airports of the area are being driven into an unsound fiscal operating mode. As those that would have used aviation to access the area find it to be impractical, they will stop using aircraft and the airports will lose their operating revenue. Even without the ADIZ pressures, the airports of this nation are under constant pressure to bring in more revenue or, failing to do that, to expect to be sold for a housing development or shopping mall. Without question, the ADIZ?s restriction on the use of the airspace deprives the area airports of the revenue stream that they need for their continued operation. If sufficiently deprived of those funds, the airports will be closed. Just like farmland, once the airport is gone, it will never reappear. At least for the farmers, the Department of Agriculture acts as an advocate for their livelihood of farming. At the FAA, its original mission for the regulation and advocacy for aviation and airports has long ago been changed to eliminate any sense of aviation advocacy.
So what does this NPRM mean? Will the Department of Homeland Security and the military services (DOD) prevail and close down the airspace? If that happens, it will set a closely watched precedent. It will create big headlines in all of the U.S. media and every major city will ask for the protection that an ADIZ is perceived to provide. Everyone knows that Chicago?s Mayor Daley is waiting for this. Once the rule is in place, Mayor Daley needs only to change a few words and geographic coordinates and he can request the same rule for Chicago. By the time we finish, with every major city having an ADIZ, the FAA will have to admit that they haven?t got the resources to provide all of the ADIZ required services and that new governmental regulations will have to be imposed on all flying in the U.S.
It is recommended that the restrictions on general aviation in the Washington, D.C. area be eliminated, not reinforced. If aviation security is of such an exigency that this cannot be done, then our association recommends that the NPRM?s Alternative 4, maintaining the FRZ but not continuing with the ADIZ, be chosen as the least harmful course of action.
We fear that adoption of a more stringent alternative, i.e., alternatives 1 to 3, will hurt U.S. aviation. We fear that the adoption of an ADIZ will result in a reduction of all General Aviation in the U.S., the closure of many airports, aviation industry, and a level of GA on the order of what one might find in France or Italy.
Setting such a precedent will be a mistake that the United States should not want to make.
California Pilots Association