DHS implements stringent security plan for opening Washington Reagan Airport to general aviation

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National Press Release
Wednesday, May 25, 2005

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced a series of new security measures that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will implement to reopen Washington Reagan Airport (DCA) for certain pre-cleared general aviation (GA) operations, including corporate aircraft, charter flights, and on-demand operations. Congress had required DHS to develop a security plan to permit general aviation aircraft to operate into and out of DCA, in the 2003 Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act.

"Increased access and enhanced security are key elements of our strategy for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport," said Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. "It is critical that we know who is on board and that we have confidence that they will not attempt a hostile act with the aircraft. We're taking extensive security precautions and requiring aircraft operators and passengers to comply with strict procedures to mitigate that risk."

The TSA's DCA Access Standard Security Program (DASSP) – which was developed in coordination with other Department of Homeland Security agencies, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies – addresses the special aviation security needs in the National Capitol Region.

TSA's plan allows access for up to 48 GA flights into DCA per day. All aircraft will be required to meet the security measures set forth by TSA, which include:

  • Advanced registration and qualification of operators and crews seeking to operate at DCA;
  • TSA inspection of crew and passengers;
  • TSA inspection of property (accessible and checked) and aircraft;
  • Identification checks of passengers by TSA;
  • Submission of passenger and crew manifests 24 hours in advance of flight;
  • Enhanced background checks for all passengers and fingerprint based criminal history records check for flight crew;
  • Law Enforcement Officer on board each flight, authorized to use force;

All operations are subject to cancellation at any time. At Threat Level Orange or Red in the Washington D.C. area or in the vicinity of the Gateway airports all GA operations into and out of DCA will cease.

According to TSA's plan, GA operators may only fly into DCA from twelve "Gateway" airports. The Gateway airports are: Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; Boston Logan; Houston Hobby; White Plains, N.Y.; LaGuardia, New York; Chicago Midway; Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minn.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; San Francisco, Calif.; Teterboro Airport, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Lexington, Ky. Each of the Gateway airports, with the exception of Teterboro, has a TSA presence and is equipped with TSA screeners. Teterboro Airport will use screeners from Newark Airport, N.J.

GA at DCA was suspended immediately after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. There were approximately 660 general aviation and charter flights per week into and out of DCA at the time of suspension.

After publication of an interim final rule, which will be released shortly, implementation and training will begin. GA flights are expected to resume in approximately 90 days following publication.