Press Release on Restricted Airspace
Washington, D.C.
September 28, 2001

The FAA today alerted civilian pilots of their responsibility to avoid restricted airspace and the procedures to follow if intercepted, in light of the Department of Defense announcement that pilots near or in restricted or prohibited airspace face a forced landing, or as a last resort, use of deadly force by military aircraft.

New security decisions stemming from the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001 require that additional airspace be barred to civilian aircraft. The FAA anticipates announcing new restricted and prohibited areas throughout the United States. This additional airspace will be over areas that require protection for national security reasons. New and current restricted and prohibited areas will be revised periodically. Therefore, it is each pilot's responsibility to be aware of the latest restrictions before each flight.

Earlier, pilots who flew in restricted or prohibited areas received a warning from Air Traffic Control and then faced suspension or revocation of their licenses or a fine. Now a pilot faces interception by military aircraft and then a forced landing at the first available airport. The Department of Defense has stated that deadly force will be used only as a last resort after all other means are exhausted.

In such situations, it is critical that pilots strictly adhere to the interception procedures in the Aeronautical Information Manual and follow any instructions from the military pilots and air traffic controllers.

FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey will be sending a letter to all U. S-registered pilots to ensure that each is aware of the new procedures.

The FAA is distributing a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) with this information. Other tools, such as the FAA's website and direct mail to airports, will also be used to contact pilots. Future NOTAMs will describe new restricted and prohibited areas and other changes in U. S. airspace. The agency will also make the many pilot groups aware of these changes.

A restricted area is a portion of airspace one that is closed to civil aircraft at specified times. A prohibited area is one in which civilian flying is prohibited at all times. The best-known example is the area over the Mall in Washington, DC that includes the White House and the Capitol.