- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) — The Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration are implementing new, tighter airspace control measures for the Washington area, the FAA announced Saturday.

The new measures are to bring the nation's capital in compliance with the increased national security alert coding, the departments said. The government Friday increased the national threat level coding from yellow, or "heightened," to orange, or "high" alert.

"Terrorists are known to favor targets in the transportation sector and to consider our civil aviation system an arsenal of improvised weapons," TSA head James M. Loy said in a statement, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in which terrorists hijacked airliners and crashed them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

"The Washington capital region is home to a number of particularly symbolic targets which must be protected," he added.

The new rules will create an "air defense identification zone" in an approximately 30-mile radius around Washington, with a 15-mile "flight restricted zone" of tighter controls. The zones cover airspace under 18,000 feet, the FAA said.

General aviation pilots will be required to maintain two-way radio communications, to use a transponder and discrete beacon code, file IFR/VFR flight plans, and to follow standard air traffic procedures before entering the air defense identification zone.

The FAA will work to get pilots timely and accurate information and to balance the needs of the flying public with the current security needs, the department said in a statement.

"We appreciate the cooperation of the general aviation community as we implement sound security measures and tighten our defenses during this period of heightened alert," Loy said.

The new measures take effect Monday, Feb. 10, at 6 a.m.

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