How to fly in the DC ADIZ (incomplete work in progress, much like the ADIZ itself)
This is compiled from my own experience flying within the ADIZ, and from my understanding of the regulations. If there are any inaccuracies here, or you have suggestions, please feel free to forward them to me (to the email address 'harry' at meretrix.com ).
Note that this information could be out of date by the time you read it, or it could have always been wrong! Reading this web page doesn't count as having met your obligation to obtain "all the information pertinent to the flight"! Use at your own risk!
If this seems way too complicated, well, there are a couple reasons for this. One reason is that this is a half-assed, cobbled together, unplanned, last-minute abomination of regulated airspace created as the bastard child of several large bureaucracies of various levels of disfunctionality. It's far more complicated than any kind of existing airspace, most of which are fairly easy to explain. And unlike the other types of airspace, there is no application of common sense to handling violations; the slightest slip-up, either through habit or distraction or disorientation or lack of education, results in harsh penalties, so extra care must be taken to get every aspect of this right on the first try, and on every try after that.
The 30nm Boundary of the ADIZThe "new" boundaries of the ADIZ are much simpler than before, it's now just a 30nm circle centered on the DCA VOR. I strongly recommend use of a GPS to ensure you maintain awareness of the ADIZ boundaries. If you're tempted to rely on DME to maintain your distance, be aware that reception of the DCA DME can be spotty in areas, particularly down low, below Class Bravo.
The ADIZ boundaries are charted on recent Washington Sectional and Terminal Area Charts. Do be certain that you're using a current chart, as older charts may depict the "old" ADIZ boundaries.
The ADIZ extends from the surface up to FL180. Let me say that again, surface to FL180!!! While you can fly underneath the Class Bravo space, or fly over the top of Bravo at 10000', and thus not require a Bravo clearance, unless you're above FL180 (and thus IFR), note that you're still within the ADIZ, and must follow all the ADIZ procedures. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can fly below or above the ADIZ without talking to anyone, like you might do with ordinary class B space, as the ADIZ still does exist below the Class Bravo and above the Bravo up to FL180.
When VFR, don't assume that just because you've met the requirements for operation within the ADIZ, that you're cleared into Bravo airspace as well. As usual, entry into Class Bravo requires an explicit clearance which is wholly independent of the hoops you've jumped through to get into the ADIZ. If you want clearance into Class Bravo, you can request it from the approach controllers, but unless you hear the magic words "Cleared into Class Bravo", remain clear of Bravo and pay close attention to the bottoms of the "shelves".
In the center of the ADIZ is the "Flight Restricted Zone", or FRZ (usually pronounced "freeze" or sometimes just "F-R-Z"). This is a roughly round area of 10-15nm radius surrounding Washington DC, charted in white. Remain clear of this area!!! The standard ADIZ procedures are not enough to give you authorization to enter the FRZ. Only pilots who have gone through a "vetting" process that involves a background check and fingerprinting are allowed to operate in here. If you're allowed to fly here, you already know how it works, otherwise REMAIN WELL CLEAR.
The 60nm "Outer" Ring of the ADIZThe "ADIZ proper" is defined by an area bounded by a 30nm radius circle centered on the DCA vortac. In order to fly within this inner area, you need to meet the basic requirements listed in the next section (file, talk, squawk).
However, there is a larger area, bounded by a 60nm radius circle around DCA, which entails some less onerous restrictions. The easy one, for most of us, is that there's a 230KIAS speed limit for VFR aircraft.
The other restriction doesn't take effect until February 9, 2009, but after that date, per this new FAA rule, in order to fly VFR within this 60nm circle, any pilot acting as PIC or SIC of a VFR aircraft must have previously completed an online ADIZ training course titled Navigating the New DC ADIZ. Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to print out a certificate. You are not required to carry this certificate with you when you fly, but you are required to provide it:
In order to take this course, you must establish a login at the www.faasafety.gov website. Since you identify yourself when you take the course, a record of your successful completion should exist there. The course is easy to complete, and should take less than 30 minutes.
Note that these "60nm circle" restrictions apply to the entire area inside the circle, it's not a "30nm-60nm ring". So to operate VFR within the 30nm circle of the "ADIZ proper", you are, of course, still subject to the training certificate requirement and the 230kt speed limit that extends out to the 60nm circle.
The Basic RequirementsThe official requirements for flight within the ADIZ (i.e. within 30nm of DCA) are:
Flight planThe first step in the ADIZ "process" is to file a flight plan. With a few exceptions noted below (e.g. pattern work at towered fields, or flights to/from a few airports just inside the edges of the ADIZ), all operations within the ADIZ require a flight plan on file, either the usual IFR flight plan, or else a "sort of special" type of VFR ADIZ flight plan.
Flight plans for operations within the ADIZ, either VFR or IFR, may be filed via any of the usual means, e.g. via DUATS, with FSS at 1-800-WXBRIEF, or in person at an FSS (if you can find one, and they let you in the door), or via any of the usual radio mechanisms for talking to FSS. You can file them in the air before entering (though it's usually easier to do it via phone from the ground). You must have one filed before entering the ADIZ from the air or launching from an airport within the ADIZ (obviously you can't take-off from within the ADIZ and then file one in flight).
Cell phone users from other parts of the country might find that when they dial 1-800-WXBRIEF from the DC area that their call is routed to an FSS from their home area. In theory, any FSS should be able to file DC ADIZ flight plans, but it might not be a bad idea to call one of the local FSS who have lots of experience with these (e.g. Leesburg, Altoona, Elkins, or Williamsport). You can find toll-free direct-dial numbers to specific FSS here: http://flighttraining.aopa.org/flight_bag/forms/
Some FSS numbers seem more busy than others, leading to long telephone hold times, particularly on a sunny weekend afternoon. Leesburg, in particular, has a reputation for long waits. Some savvy ADIZ flyers side-step the FSS they'd get from 1-800-WXBRIEF, opting instead to direct-dial a less busy FSS, via the numbers listed above.
VFR ADIZ Flight planA VFR ADIZ flight plan is not the same as a regular VFR flight plan that FSS uses for search and rescue; these S&R VFR flight plans never reach ATC. The VFR ADIZ flight plans are really processed like IFR flight plans in the computer to ensure they're routed to ATC.
A VFR ADIZ flight plan has no S&R implications. If you want S&R coverage, you'll need to file a separate flight plan for that (e.g. ask FSS to file an ADIZ flight plan, and then ask to file a separate "search and rescue VFR flight plan"). If you file both plans, they are completely separate. While the ADIZ VFR plan is implicitly "opened" when you check-in with ATC after take-off from an ADIZ airport or before you enter the ADIZ from the outside, and automatically closed when you land at an ADIZ airport (both towered and non-towered) or exit the ADIZ in flight, the S&R VFR flight plan must still be explicitly opened with FSS and explicitly closed after you land, per the traditional procedures.
While the VFR ADIZ flight plans are based on the traditional VFR flight plan form, and thus have the same fields in the same order, note that the contents of some fields will be very different for these two flight plans, as the ADIZ flight plan just covers the part of your flight within the ADIZ boundaries itself (e.g. from your airport of departure to your ADIZ exit point).
Originally, neither ADIZ VFR nor IFR flight plans could be filed via DUATs. This restriction has been lifted. IFR flight plans filed via DUATs are "regular, old" IFR flight plans, with no particular ADIZ oddities associated with them, but filing a VFR ADIZ flight plan via DUATS is a bit peculiar, as you have to file it as an IFR flight plan with a few fields filled in with special values.
Here's a summary of the fields for a VFR ADIZ flight plan, as the plan would be read to an FSS briefer over the radio or telephone:
Note that some of the fields in the standard flight plan form are primarily for search and rescue (e.g. fuel on board, destination contact, number aboard). Some FSS guys won't even ask for these.
If you're filing your VFR ADIZ flight plan via DUATs, you enter it per the above suggestions, but with a few exceptions:
You're technically filing this as an IFR flight plan, but ATC will know that you're really VFR based on the "VFR/XX" cruising altitude and the "ADIZ DUATS" remarks.
IFR ADIZ Flight planAn IFR pilot files a standard IFR flight plan as usual, none of the oddities of the VFR ADIZ flight plan described above apply.
Approved Entry/Exit pointsWhen filing a VFR ADIZ flight plan, you have to specify the point at which you'll enter or exit the adiz, and this must be specified as one of the navaids/intersections on an "approved" list. Pilots who have been flying in the ADIZ for a time are probably used to a list of entry/exit points that looks like: EMI, BELAY, GOLDA, CROPS, WHINO, BRZ, CSN, LDN, HOAGE, MRB, and FDK. But the approved list has recently been changed, and there are reports of FSS briefers refusing the old entry/exit points. The new list is:
Note that you're not required to actually enter or exit the ADIZ from one of these points, don't go out of your way just to hit one of the above points, just specify the entry/exit point that is closest to your intended route. If your planned route takes you to an exit that's significantly distant from "the closest one" you filed, it's a good idea to (tersely) inform ATC of your intended course using any of the points that they're likely to know. Remember, the point of this exercise is to accurately state your intentions, and then accurately adhere to those stated intentions.
Requirement: Squawking a Discrete CodeWith a few exceptions, to be noted in a moment, whenever you take-off from an airport inside the ADIZ, you will necessarily have already been assigned a transponder code and a departure frequency. You should be squawking this transponder code before you take-off. The usual technique is to enter the code in pre-flight with the transponder in standby, then switch to "alt" before taking the runway for take-off, though some pilots will switch to "alt" in pre-flight, for fear of forgetting and taking off with the transponder off.
However you do it, it is CRITICAL that you never fly within the ADIZ without squawking your assigned code. IFR pilots accustomed to launching VFR, squawking 1200, and getting their clearance in the air need to remember that simply "launching VFR" in the ADIZ requires getting a squawk code. You cannot launch squawking 1200 and get your ADIZ code in the air!
If you launch from within the ADIZ without remembering to turn on your transponder, you'll likely get a call from ATC to "recycle your transponder". This is what we call a hint, it really means "you forgot to turn on your transponder, you dope, you just busted the ADIZ rules, but if you fix it right quick we'll all pretend it was an equipment problem which was quickly resolved".
When approaching an airport to land, it is CRITICAL that you continue to squawk your code until on the ground. IFR pilots used to squawking 1200 after canceling IFR in the air a few miles out, or VFR pilots used to squawking 1200 after canceling flight following, need to resist the urge to reach for that VFR button on the transponder while in the air. Even though you're now VFR, and no longer talking to approach, you must keep that squawk code until landing, else this may be your last landing until your 90-day suspension runs out. You never squawk 1200 inside the ADIZ!!! NEVER!!!
The procedures for getting this code before take-off are similar (identical, really) to those for getting an IFR clearance. First, you must have already filed your flight plan with FSS. Once that's done, at a towered field, you'll typically get your code from ground, or possibly from the tower. If the field has a clearance delivery frequency, you can get it there.
If you're departing from a non-towered field without a clearance delivery frequency, then you'll need to call Potomac Tracon via telephone. Your best bet is to use a cell-phone from the plane after pre-flight, but before starting the engine, or a land-line phone before walking out to the plane. An adiz squawk doesn't have the same "turn into a pumpkin if you're not off in 10 minutes" semantics that an IFR "clearance void time" has, but it's a good idea to call for your code as close to takeoff time as possible (e.g. don't call for your code from home, before driving to the airport).
Of course, you're only going to get your squawk on the ground if you're departing from an airport within the ADIZ. If you're taking off from outside the ADIZ and intend to enter the ADIZ on your flight, you'll get your squawk in the air, not on the ground before departure (assuming a VFR departure). Also of course, even if you depart from an airport just outside the ADIZ, keep your distance away from the ADIZ until you're squawking your code.
I'm not sure where to find an official source for the phone number to reach Potomac Tracon (couldn't find it in the AF/D), but I'm sure you can get it from FSS when you file your flight plan. I've always used (866) 429-5882, though this may be specific to the Potomac sector I fly out of most often. Sometimes this number is answered right away, sometimes you get busy signals for 20 minutes.
If you're entering the ADIZ IFR, or with VFR traffic advisories, then you're already squawking a discrete code. With flight following, as long as ATC doesn't tell you to squawk 1200 before entering the ADIZ, then your current code will work until you land.
Requirement: Two-way communicationsMuch like IFR flight, you are required to be in continual voice communications with ATC (with exceptions noted below), which in the ADIZ means either Potomac Tracon or an airport tower controller. You do need to pay close attention, letting ATC calls for you go unanswered is "a Bad Thing", and not just from a radio etiquette perspective. I've never tried the "request frequency change for 2 minutes to check weather" trick from within the ADIZ, but I suspect it wouldn't go over very well.
When taking off from within the ADIZ, you'll be given a departure frequency when you get your squawk. As usual, when departing from a tower-controlled field, you switch to departure when the tower instructs you to. When departing from a non-towered field, you monitor and report position/intentions on the local CTAF frequency until you're clear of the airport traffic pattern, at which point you switch over to departure and check-in with ATC.
For a flight that never leaves the traffic pattern, you will not be given a departure frequency to contact, because you are not expected to contact Potomac, you'll just keep your radio on the Tower or CTAF frequencies, as appropriate.
When entering the ADIZ, if you're IFR or flying VFR and receiving VFR traffic advisories (e.g. "flight following"), then you're already talking to ATC, and you'll be given hand-offs as needed (probably, unless the previous controller gets lazy and dumps you just before you hit this airspace). If you're approaching the ADIZ VFR without flight following, and thus not "talking" to anyone, then you need to contact them well before entering the lateral boundaries of the ADIZ. The frequency to use to initiate contact depends on the sector in which you're entering the ADIZ, you can find the frequency appropriate to your entry point here: http://www.aopa.org/images/whatsnew/newsitems/2005/notams/adiz.pdf . Note that this differs from the frequencies listed on the terminal area chart. If you don't have the prior chart with you, just contact ATC on the TAC frequencies, they'll tell you where to go. Inbound, initiate contact when about 10nm from the ADIZ boundary (if you call them up 20 miles out, they'll sometimes tell you to call back when 10 miles out). It will sometimes take you a while to establish contact, so begin the process as early as possible to preclude the need to "circle" outside. Until you have permission to enter, stay well clear of the boundary, e.g. I'd recommend at least 3 miles out, more if you're just guessing based on visual landmarks. Your GPS might say you're still .1 nm outside the boundary, but your certificate will be suspended based on the accuracy of their radar, not what you claim your GPS said.
This may seem like a nit-picky terminology issue, but the ADIZ is not like Class B airspace, you don't require a clearance into the airspace, so don't ask for one, nor should you ask "am I cleared into the ADIZ", which often elicits a patient explanation from ATC. Instead, it is more like Class C airspace, in that you need to establish 2-way communications (they need to address you explicitly by your tail number), and they need to have not explicitly told you to remain clear. Sometimes they will tell you to remain clear until they've identified you on radar; if this happens, obviously you need to remain clear until they tell you otherwise. If they don't tell you to remain clear, and they're talking to you by your tail number, then you've successfully established communications needed to come in (again, all this is meaningless for traffic on an IFR clearance, or VFR traffic already talking to ATC for flight following, which have already established the necessary 2-way communication).
Since ATC sometimes tells you "remain clear" until they have radar contact (and sometimes doesn't), some pilots won't enter the ADIZ unless they hear the magic words "transponder observed, proceed on course", and will prod the controller for the words. Personally, I remain clear if told to remain clear, but proceed on in if not (assuming I'm squawking and talking), though I can't promise you that this isn't perceived by the security guys to be a violation of some unwritten aspect of the rules.
Radar coverage around the edges of the ADIZ is not, err, uniformly excellent. When making first contact before entering the ADIZ, it may help to be at the highest altitude possible, but still below the floor of the class B shelf you're about to fly under. If ATC cannot identify you on radar, they will tell you to remain clear. If this happens, you might try climbing and calling again. Low ceiling? Sucks to be you.
When landing at an airport within the ADIZ, at some point you'll need a frequency change either to a tower controller or to a local CTAF. You'll typically be expected to inform the controller when you have the airport in sight. (In some cases, upon ADIZ entry, ATC will ask you to call when you're 10 miles from the field, if you call them saying "field in sight" or "5 miles from the field", some controllers do seem to get perturbed, so really do call 10 miles out when asked, otherwise just call when the field is in sight). On occasion, a busy controller will, out of the blue, "remind" you to "report the field in sight", which is a bit of a hint that he hasn't heard you report this yet, and he thinks you should have it by now, and, really, that he'd like to get rid of you. The correct answer here is, of course, "XXXX has field in sight", though feel free to stay with approach if you're concerned about a traffic conflict or you're lost or you need their help for some reason.
When landing VFR at a tower-controlled field, you could get a hand-off, but it seems more common for Approach to give you "frequency change approved" and you'll make your initial callup "cold". Make sure you get a frequency change early enough to properly prepare for your approach; e.g. time to get the ATIS or AWOS, to talk/monitor on the CTAF well before reaching the traffic pattern, etc., and you're still responsible for establishing contact with a tower before entering their airspace. Many airports within the ADIZ are fairly high traffic, don't let this ADIZ nonsense distract you from taking care of business. Also consider that the approach frequency is sometimes very busy, and it may take a few minutes for you to get a chance to report the field in sight, so if you wait too long to begin initiating attempts, you might not get your frequency change until you're very near the field.
At this point, you'll typically be reminded to keep your squawk until you're on the ground. Again, resist whatever urge you may have to reach for that VFR button on the transponder! Never squawk 1200 in the ADIZ!
Once you've gotten that frequency change to "advisory" or tower, the remainder of your flight to landing is pretty much "standard".
Unlike a traditional S&R VFR flight plan, you never need to close an ADIZ flight plan. Of course, if you have filed both ADIZ and S&R flight plans, do be sure to close the S&R flight plan, these two flight plans are wholly independent entities. When landing at a non-towered field, IFR flight plans must be closed as usual, either in the air or from the ground.
VFR PhraseologyThis is the VFR phraseology I use, and that I hear most pilots use.
IFR phraseology is pretty much standard, except that if you cancel IFR in flight you'll be reminded to remain on your code until on the ground (i.e. don't squawk 1200!)
Taking off from non-towered field, checking in:VFR Pilot: Potomac Approach, Cessna 1234X is off Gaithersburg, headed for Frederick.
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, code observed, remain clear of Bravo, Dulles altimeter 29.92.
VFR Pilot: Remain clear of bravo, 29.92, Cessna 1234X.
After exiting the ADIZEither you initiate:
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, clear of the A-D-I-Z, frequency change approved, squawk 1200, good day.
VFR Pilot: Cessna 1234X, frequency change approved, squawk VFR, thanks.
VFR Pilot: Cessna 1234X, frequency change approved, squawk VFR, thanks.
Approaching the ADIZ to enter, not on flight following, making initial contact from 10nm outVFR Pilot:Potomac Approach, Cessna 1234X, VFR, ADIZ request
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, go ahead
VFR Pilot:Cessna 1234X is 4 north of Westminster, ADIZ to Gaithersburg.
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, squawk 3456
VFR Pilot:squawk 3456, Cessna 1234X
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, code observed, remain clear of bravo, report Gaithersburg in sight
VFR Pilot:remain clear of bravo, report Gaithersburg in sight, Cessna 1234X
Sometimes you'll get:
VFR Pilot: Cessna 1234X, squawk 3456, remain clear of ADIZ
(Seconds pass, remaining outside, circling if necessary...)
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, code observed, remain clear of bravo, report Gaithersburg in sight
Inside the ADIZ, landing field in sight:VFR Pilot:Potomac approach, Cessna 1234X has Gaithersburg in sight
VFR Pilot:Potomac approach, Cessna 1234X is 10 from Gaithersburg
Potomac: Cessna 1234X, frequency change approved, remain on your code until on the ground
VFR Pilot:code to the ground, frequency change approved, Cessna 1234X
Flying the ADIZ Without a TransponderContinuously squawking your assigned code is one of the requirements to fly within the ADIZ, but it is possible to ferry a plane out of (and I assume into) the ADIZ without a transponder, for instance to take a plane with a failed transponder to a place where it can be repaired, or to ferry a plane without an electrical system. In order to do this, the pilot must make some extra arrangements before-hand, and then fly in loose formation with another aircraft which does have a functioning transponder and radio.
I've only had to do this once, and I didn't have the sense to write down the procedures in a timely manner, so I'm going on memory here. As I recall, though, it was a fairly simple procedure, it was clear that they do it semi-routinely, though that didn't preclude a little bit of confusion in getting things setup.
The short answer is to call the number (540) 349-7541 at least 30 minutes before you plan to make the flight, and make all the proper arrangements. The "lead plane" will file, talk, and squawk normally, per the regular ADIZ procedures. When I did it, I was in the "ferried" plane, with a failed transponder, and I filed a flight plan and talked to ATC before departure (though, of course, there was no reason to assign a squawk). I also maintained 2-way comms with ATC in flight, but I think the procedures are meant to accomodate planes with no electrical systems as well, so it should be possible to do this if the "plane being ferried" has no functioning radio. In effect, the chase plane is doing the "talking and squawking".
There's no need for this to be a Blue Angels demonstration, the planes aren't expected to be wingtip to wingtip, they should just be within sight of each other. Since most pilots aren't experienced in formation flight, I strongly recommend a pre-flight huddle between the two pilots to agree on procedures, and a plan to fly altitudes with at least a couple hundred feet of separation.
Again, this is just my recollection from having done this once in May of 2008. If you need to do this, do call the guys in charge and get the latest word from them.
Other ResourcesFAA rule Special Awareness Training for the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.
ADIZ course at faasafety.gov. I probably would have never needed to make this page if the FAA had produced this a year earlier than they did.
AOPA interactive program (note that their radio phraseology is a bit verbose): http://www.aopa.org/adiz/adiz.html
Harry Mantakos / email@example.com