New Training Requirements for flight within 60 nautical miles of Washington D.C.

I have been asked to comment on a recent FAA training requirement for pilots flying within 60 nautical miles of Washington D.C.

After the 9/11 attacks, special airspace was created around Washington D.C. to better protect the U.S. leadership there from airborne threats. In subsequent years, general aviation pilots have violated the airspace enough times to cause a stir, and a congressional demand that the FAA “do something.” This amendment is what they did.

By all measures that I can see, the rule does NOT apply to ultralight pilots. Primarily, it’s an amendment to FAR part 91, a part that, with a few exemptions, does not apply to us (PPG pilots).  Our regulation, FAR 103, does include some references to Part 91 but this is not one of them. And the amendment’s verbiage only addresses “aircraft” which does not include us–we’re “vehicles.”

Having said that, getting the training appears to be simple and free. It would sure be a good idea, for pilots near D.C., to get the training and conform to the rule. In fact, after reading the public comments, the FAA could have taken far more draconian measures. I would STRONGLY encourage pilots who paramotor in the D.C. area to take the training. If anything happens and they get called on the carpet, it will be helpful to have been exercising due diligence to be informed. Moreover, better awareness may, in fact, prevent an incursion in the first place.

Below is a copy of the most pertinent parts of the rule.

SkyVector excerpt of Washington DC airspace

Special Awareness Training for the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area

RIN 2120-AI63

August 12, 2008, Federal Register [Page 46797-46804], Dept of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration, 14 CFR Part 91 [Docket No. FAA-2006-25250; Amdt. No. 91-302]

Preamble Information:

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: The FAA is requiring “special awareness” training for any pilot who flies under visual flight rules (VFR) within a 60-nautical- mile (NM) radius of the Washington, DC VHF omni-directional range/ distance measuring equipment (DCA VOR/DME). This training has been developed and provided by the FAA on its Web site and focuses primarily on training pilots on the procedures for flying in and around the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ). The rule will reduce the number of unauthorized flights into the airspace of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area ADIZ and FRZ through education of the pilot community.

DATES: This final rule is effective on February 9, 2009. Affected parties, however, do not have to comply with the information collection requirement in Sec. 91.161 until the FAA publishes in the Federal Register the control number assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for this information collection requirement. Publication of the control number notifies the public that OMB has approved this information collection requirement under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

ADIZ–Air Defense Identification Zone 
AOPA–Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 
ATC–Air Traffic Control 
DCA VOR/DME–Washington, DC very high frequency omni-directional range/distance measuring equipment 
FDC–Flight Data Center 
FRZ–Flight Restricted Zone 
HAI–Helicopter Association International 
IFR–Instrument flight rules 
NATA–National Air Transportation Association 
NM–Nautical mile 
NOTAM–Notice to Airmen 
NPRM–Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
VFR–Visual flight rules

B. Summary of the Special Awareness Training NPRM

On July 5, 2006, the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled, “Special Awareness Training for the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area” (71 FR 38118). The FAA proposed that pilots flying VFR within a radius of 100 nautical miles (NM) of the DCA VOR/DME complete free online Special Awareness Training for operating in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and other Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) areas. Pilots would be required to complete the training one time. Upon completion of the online training, a pilot would download a copy of his or her certificate of training completion. A copy of the certificate would have to be presented upon request of an authorized representative of the FAA, an authorized representative of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer, or an authorized representative of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The comment period for the NPRM closed on September 5, 2006. The FAA is issuing this rule essentially as proposed, except that the proposed requirement that training must be completed by pilots flying within a 100-NM radius from the DCA VOR/DME has been modified in the final rule to require training for pilots flying within a 60-NM radius of the DCA VOR/DME. The FAA will place a note on the Washington Sectional, Baltimore-Washington Terminal Area Sectional, Baltimore- Washington Helicopter Route Sectional, and the CG-21 World Aeronautical Chart about the training requirement for the Washington, DC ADIZ and FRZ airspace.

In addition, the heading of Sec. 91.161 has been modified to better describe the content of the section, and a paragraph entitled “Special Awareness Training” has been added to describe the training required by Sec. 91.161 and where it is located.

C. Other Washington, DC ADIZ-Related Rulemaking Activity

On August 4, 2005, the FAA issued an NPRM entitled, “Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area” (70 FR 45250) that proposed to codify current flight restrictions for certain aircraft operations in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. That rule remains in development, and this final rule is not directly related to the issues addressed in that rulemaking action. 
X. Availability of Rulemaking Documents 
You can get an electronic copy of rulemaking documents using the Internet by– 
1. Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://; 
2. Visiting the FAA’s Regulations and Policies Web page at http://; or 
3. Accessing the Government Printing Office’s Web page at http:// 
You can also get a copy by sending a request to the Federal Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. Make sure to identify the amendment number or docket number of this rulemaking. 
Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT’s complete Privacy Act statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit 
XI. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996 requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its jurisdiction. If you are a small entity and you have a question regarding this document, you may contact your local FAA official, or the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT at the beginning of the preamble. You can find out more about SBREFA on the Internet at act/. 
List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 91
Air traffic control, Aircraft, Airmen, Airports, Aviation safety, Noise control, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The Amendment

In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends chapter I of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations as follows: 
1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 1155, 40103, 40113, 40120, 44101, 44111, 44701, 44704, 44709, 44711, 44712, 44715, 44716, 44717, 44722, 46306, 46315, 46316, 46504, 46506-46507, 47122, 47508, 47528- 47531, articles 12 and 29 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180). 
2. Add Sec. 91.161 to read as follows: 
Sec. 91.161 Special awareness training required for pilots flying under visual flight rules within a 60-nautical mile radius of the Washington, DC VOR/DME. 
(a) Operations within a 60-nautical mile radius of the Washington, DC VOR/DME under visual flight rules (VFR). Except as provided under paragraph (e) of this section, no person may serve as a pilot in command or as second in command of an aircraft while flying within a 60-nautical mile radius of the DCA VOR/DME, under VFR, unless that pilot has completed Special Awareness Training and holds a certificate of training completion. 
(b) Special Awareness Training. The Special Awareness Training consists of information to educate pilots about the procedures for flying in the Washington, DC area and, more generally, in other types of special use airspace. This free training is available on the FAA’s Web site. Upon completion of the training, each person will need to print out a copy of the certificate of training completion. 
(c) Inspection of certificate of training completion. Each person who holds a certificate for completing the Special Awareness Training must present it for inspection upon request from: 
(1) An authorized representative of the FAA; 
(2) An authorized representative of the National Transportation Safety Board; 
(3) Any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer; or 
(4) An authorized representative of the Transportation Security Administration. 
(d) Emergency declared. The failure to complete the Special Awareness Training course on flying in and around the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area is not a violation of this section if an emergency is declared by the pilot, as described under Sec. 91.3(b), or there was a failure of two-way radio communications when operating under IFR as described under Sec. 91.185. 
(e) Exceptions. The requirements of this section do not apply if the flight is being performed in an aircraft of an air ambulance operator certificated to conduct part 135 operations under this chapter, the U.S. Armed Forces, or a law enforcement agency.