- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A Transportation Security Administration proposal to extend the restricted airspace around Camp David during presidential visits would disrupt operations at 11 airports in the region, Maryland’s two U.S. senators said.

The proposal to temporarily expand the buffer known as P-40 from 10 nautical miles to 30 would cost the airports in three states an average of $236,124 a day, Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, both Democrats, said in a May 15 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

The change “would cause major disruptions in operations” at the airports, the senators said.

Sarbanes spokesman Jesse Jacobs said the two senators have not received a response to their letter.

The Department of Homeland Security referred all calls to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has announced no change in the P-40 policy, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said.

The 11 airports are: Hagerstown, Frederick, Clearview, Carroll County Regional and Davis airports in Maryland; Hanover, Mid-Atlantic, Gettysburg, Shippensburg and Chambersburg airports in Pennsylvania; and Martinsburg Airport in West Virginia.

Of the group, only Hagerstown Regional Airport has scheduled commercial flights.

“We urge you to carefully consider the detrimental effects that an enlargement of P-40 would have on airports and the general aviation community, including those businesses and local economies that depend on them for their survival,” the senators wrote.

Washington County Commissioner John C. Munson said increasing the restricted airspace would shut down the Hagerstown airport when the president is at Camp David in the nearby Catoctin Mountains.

“The government has no business doing that kind of stuff,” Mr. Munson said.

Aircraft, including private and commercial planes, are not allowed in restricted airspace.

Miss Mikulski and Mr. Sarbanes wrote that increasing the temporary flight restriction to 30 nautical miles, combined with other existing airspace restrictions, would result in restricted airspace measuring nearly 70 nautical miles.

A nautical mile is about 6,080 feet.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), based in Frederick, said the organization opposes increasing the temporary restricted airspace.

“Without a specific and credible threat, disruptions to [the] nation’s aviation commerce should be kept to a minimum,” AOPA President Phil Boyer said. “While we recognize the need to protect the president, AOPA will continue to fight to make the restriction fit the threat.”

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