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FAA reduces no-fly zone

May 09, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The size of the no-fly zone over Camp David has been reduced, which will make landing at the Hagerstown Regional Airport more convenient for pilots, Airport Manager Carolyn Motz said Wednesday.

In late April the restricted airspace over Camp David, the presidential retreat in nearby Catoctin Mountain Park, was reduced from a horizontal 8 nautical mile radius from the center of the camp, to 5 nautical miles.

A nautical mile is about 6,076 feet. A statute mile is 5,280 feet.

The Federal Aviation Administration does not publicly disclose the reasons for changes in its no-fly zones, a spokesman said.

Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the no-fly zone over Camp David had a 3 nautical mile radius. It increased to an 8 nautical mile radius after the attacks.

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The 8-mile zone included space that pilots use for a precision approach to the airport's main runway while the 5-mile zone does not, Motz said.

Pilots normally would use the Instrument Landing System when approaching that runway from the east when visibility is low, Motz said. After Sept. 11, pilots flying when visibility was low had to make a choice between making a noninstrument landing from the west or diverting to another airport.

In late January, the Federal Aviation Administration approved an airport request to allow pilots to approach through that portion of the no-fly zone if they had approved flight plans.

Under the April 24 change, the precision approach is no longer in the zone, so pilots can practice instrument approaches on the Instrument Landing System under visual conditions, Motz aid.

Motz expressed concern some pilots might accidentally enter the restricted airspace because the approach comes within less than 1 mile of the zone's boundaries.

Pilots entered the expanded no-fly zone over Camp David 89 times between Sept. 11, 2001, and May 6, 2002, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said.

Motz said she thinks there will be fewer violations of the zone under the reduced size. But pilots should use caution or else they could accidentally enter the restricted airspace, she said.

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