Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FAA Posts G-20 Flight Restrictions

The Wheeling-Ohio County Airport expects to be treated as if it is inside the restricted air traffic zone for the G-20 Summit scheduled to be held in Pittsburgh Sept. 24-25, said airport Manager Tom Tominack.

A map released by the Federal Aviation Administration shows the airport just outside the zone, according to Tominack.

Those air traffic restrictions won't have direct impact on the Jefferson County Air Park, but restrictions begin immediately east of Jefferson County.

According to the FAA, temporary flight restrictions are being put into effect for those dates, and notices to pilots and airports could be changed with little or no notice.

Within a 12 nautical-mile ring around Pittsburgh, all flights not operating as regularly scheduled commercial or cargo flights already operating under Transportation Security Administration procedures will have to apply for a waiver to arrive at Pittsburgh International or Allegheny County airports.

Screening of such flights will occur at North Central West Virginia Airport at Clarksburg, and application for a waiver must be made at least 96 hours before a planned flight.

In a ring from 12 nautical miles to 30 nautical miles from Pittsburgh, flights must follow a visual flight rules or instrument flight rules flight plan, must be in contact with air traffic controllers and must be using the transponder that identifies the aircraft to air traffic control.

Flights within that ring are limited to departure or arrival at local airports in the ring, which includes Eddie Dew Memorial Airport, the grass strip at Toronto, and Herron Airport, the grass strip at New Cumberland.

Pilots are advised that aircraft cannot loiter within the zone.

The FAA advises that aircraft not complying with the temporary flight restrictions may be subjected to use of force.

Jefferson County and Wheeling-Ohio County airports lie just beyond the 30-mile circle from downtown Pittsburgh.

Tominack said although Wheeling-Ohio County Airport is outside the zone, the airport is being treated as if it is in the zone.

"We will be affected by the event. We're working at this point to alert users that they should check the NOTAMS (notice to airmen) and be sure of activities that may or may not occur," he said.

"The airport can be utilized, but it will be restricted and will take more coordination to use on those days."

At Jefferson County, Manager Phil Bender said, "For us, it will be business as usual, but pilots have to be aware that just east of here is the restricted airspace."

He said emergency flights by the STAT MedEvac helicopters based at the airport still will be able to access Pittsburgh hospitals through coordination with the TSA and Secret Service.

The Intelligencer