- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2002

The remaining three airports closed as a result of September 11 all in Prince George's County will be allowed to reopen on a limited basis starting as early as next week, the Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday.
The target date for reopening Washington Executive/Hyde Park in Clinton, Potomac Airfield in Friendly, and the College Park Airport is Feb. 22, said William Shumann, a spokesman for the FAA. The airports are the only airports in the country still closed by a federal ban on private planes flying within 15 miles of the Washington Monument.
"With certain qualifications in place, we are saying that flying will be able to resume at these three airports once the airport managers put certain security procedures in place," Mr. Shumann said, adding that the new regulations are part of an emergency rule that applies only to these three airports.
One aspect of the rule calls for a ban on transient aircraft flying to these airfields. For the initial 60 days, the airports will not be allowed to receive planes that are not based at that particular airfield. For example, a private pilot living in Pittsburgh could not decide to fly to College Park. However, a pilot whose plane is based at College Park could fly to and from Pittsburgh without any difficulty.
This regulation has aviation administrators concerned the reopening of their airports might be a day late and a dollar short.
"The lifeblood of these airports is the transient operations, and they can't be totally eliminated," said Bruce Mundie, director of the office of regional aviation assistance of the Maryland Aviation Administration.
"The devil is in the details, and some things that look easy in policy and politics are not easy in administration," said David Wartofsky, owner of the Potomac Airfleld.
Mr. Schumann said the ban will be in place for at least 60 days and could go longer, depending on the success of the initial run .
In addition, pilots who wish to fly from these airports must first be registered with the airport and have their fingerprints, as well as background checks, on record with the FAA. They must also obtain a confidential ID code that they will be required to use when filing a flight plan, as well as an additional transponder code before each flight. They will be required to remain in constant radio contact with air-traffic control throughout the flight.
Aviation administrators at the affected airports are pleased they are finally being given the chance to reopen. One operator estimated he has lost $25,000 a month in revenue since his airport was closed, and another said creditors are beginning to cut services because of his inability to pay in recent months.
James Davidson, owner of ATC Flight Training Center at Potomac Airfield, said he is hopeful his business will be able to survive, but time will be the final answer.
"My feelings are that it is great that we will be flying again but I don't know if it's in time. It will take a while to see," he said.
Larry Kelley, owner of the Beacon Flying Service, which operates out of Hyde Field, agreed.
"I've been trying to squeeze and trying to hang in there," Mr. Kelley said. "But I'll have to quit [by the end of March] if things aren't better because I am out of money."


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