Flying into D.C. during the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

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Flying into D.C. during the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Flying into D.C. during the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

For business aircraft operators, issues are not anticipated during the upcoming Presidential inauguration in January. There should be plenty of aircraft parking and full availability of services without additional security measures or procedures. It’s best to work with your 3rd-party provider, as early as possible to consider best operating options and secure preferred hotel accommodations.

1. When does the 2013 U.S. Presidential inauguration take place?

The Presidential inauguration will be held in Washington, D.C., on Monday, January 21, 2013. A week of festivities will include the Presidential Swearing-in Ceremony, Inaugural Address, Inaugural Parade and numerous inaugural balls and galas honoring the elected President of the United States.

2. What are best airport options?

Recommended airports are Washington National (KDCA), Washington Dulles (KIAD) and Baltimore Washington (KBWI). Both KIAD and KBWI operate 24 hours, but KDCA is only active 0630-2200 local. All three are Airports of Entry (AOEs.) For international arrivals, customs must be notified prior to flight. General Aviation (GA) operations to KDCA are only possible for pre-approved operators with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security program clearances. Drive time from KDCA, KIAD and KBWI to central Washington, D.C., is approximately 30, 45 and 60 minutes, respectively.

3. Will aircraft parking be problematic?

Aircraft parking is not expected to be an issue for operations into any of the Washington, D.C.-area airports. The upcoming inauguration ceremony, and a week of related festivities, is expected to draw less GA activity than the 2009 inauguration.

4. Are there additional security considerations?

Normal security restrictions will apply at all Washington, D.C.-area airports. KDCA, however, has had special security mandates in place since 9/11, and operators must be aware of, and comply with, these procedures. Information on the KDCA Access Standard program can be found at GA operators must obtain approval from TSA to operate into KDCA. This process can take from several weeks to several months. It’s a thorough process, and TSA will do background checks on every crew member and passenger listed on the application. Even if you’re approved, there’s a limitation of 48 movements per day. So, if this number is reached, you may not be able to operate. Depending on your security program approval, you may or may not need to have an armed air marshal on board for ops into KDCA.

5. Are ARO slots required for KDCA?

KDCA requires Airport Reservation Office (ARO) slots, which are approved for a time period of one hour. For example, if you’re approved for 1315Z, you may arrive anytime between 1300Z and 1359Z. A firm schedule is needed in order to request ARO slots. Requests may be submitted by the operator or a 3rd-party provider. ARO slots may only be requested up to 48 hours in advance of the estimated time of arrival (ETA).

6. Are TSA security approval numbers needed on flight plans?

If you have a TSA security program approval number, it must be entered in remarks 18 of the flight plan. Diplomatic flights do not require TSA security program approvals, but operators must obtain a diplomatic (DIP) clearance for KDCA operations (and any other operations in the U.S.) and enter this in remarks 18 of the flight plan.

7. Are TSA waivers required for KDCA?

Non-U.S. operators approved for KDCA operations may require two TSA waivers (the TSA waiver for KDCA and, depending on the country of registry of the aircraft, an international TSA waiver.) It’s much easier for operators, particularly non-U.S.-registered operators, to land at either KIAD or KBWI, as security restrictions and procedures are not as restrictive.

For additional information, read APIS, TSA and DOT Authorization Info for Non-U.S. Registered Business Aircraft by Adam Hartley.

8. Are KIAD and KBWI both good options?

KIAD is the preferred option for many business aircraft operators due to its close proximity to the city and less challenging security considerations/restrictions. KIAD airport and customs are available 24 hours. Keep in mind that peak hours of scheduled commercial operations for this airport are 0700-0900 and 1430-1600, and delays may be encountered during these times. Planeside pick-up/drop-off is possible at KIAD on a case-by-case basis. The next-best option for many operators is KBWI, which is also open 24 hours with 24-hour customs availability and no ARO requirements. Cars are not permitted on the ramp at KBWI for planeside pickup/drop-off. While KBWI has a helipad, helicopter operations are restricted, and you will not be able to get close to Washington, D.C., via helicopter. No aircraft parking issues are expected at either airport, and there are no special security requirements in place during the inauguration period.

9. What’s another regional airport option?

Manassas, Virginia (KHEF), is also an option to consider. KHEF is an AOE with 0630-2230 local operating hours and customs available on request. KIAD customs services this airport and is available 0800-2230 local with advance notice of at least 24 hours. If you plan a weekend operation to KHEF, customs must be pre-advised, at the latest, by close of business Friday.

10. Are there other considerations for this period?

Hotel and local ground transportation arrangements should be made as soon as the schedule is known. Preferred hotel options are unlikely to be available for last-minute bookings. If crew members or passengers plan to attend inauguration events, be aware that public transit will be very crowded, and security screenings will take place at all locations.

11. How do we find more information?

The official Inauguration Web site has more information on all the events that will take place. TSA has a Web site for updated info concerning authorization procedures for KDCA. ARO slot information can be obtained by calling 1-800-875-9694.


It should be business as usual for GA operators during inauguration week at Washington, D.C.-area airports. Don’t plan on operating to KDCA, however, if you don’t already have an approved TSA security program in place, as the application process can easily consume four weeks plus.


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