Security Rules For D.C. Loosening, Somewhat

As of Sept. 1, new rules from the FAA and Transportation Security Administration will affect flight in the Washington D.C. Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA). After that date, a VFR pilot who loses radio contact with controllers after takeoff from an airport within the SFRA may return to the airport of origin if it is closer than the border of the SFRA. Under current rules, if communications are lost, the pilot must immediately squawk 7600 and depart the SFRA by the most direct route. Also, the new rules set a speed limit of 180 knots for VFR traffic within the SFRA. For sport pilots and recreational pilots, another new rule goes into effect immediately and will allow access to the three GA airports located within the inner 15 miles of the SFRA, known as the "Maryland Three" — College Park Airport, Potomac Airfield and Hyde Executive Field. The old rules require at least a private license to fill out the forms required for access to the airports. Erik Jensen, TSA assistant general manager for general aviation security said, "After reviewing the issue that was raised by the industry, it appears that the Maryland Three form unintentionally excluded these certificates, which was not the original intent."