View Full Version : Jetliner Flies Directly Over White House

2nd Apr 2002, 16:30
A Denver-bound Frontier Airlines passenger jet flew through the restricted airspace above the White House last night.

The pilot of Flight 819, a Boeing 737, was immediately contacted by air traffic controllers and he acknowledged making an error.

The plane took off from Reagan National Airport at 6:15 p.m. EST and landed at Denver International Airport.

It was monitored after entering the restricted airspace, but no other measures were taken. The airspace above Washington is still being patrolled by fighter planes.

The standard departure route for planes flying out of Reagan National includes a sharp turn just after takeoff, to avoid the restricted airspace.

"The pilot missed the first turning point," Brown said. "He did manage to go through part of the restricted airspace."

I guess the security isn't that good as they tell us ! :o

Source Aviation news (http://luchtvaart.pagina.nl)

2nd Apr 2002, 17:21
Pardon me but I would consider it quite worthy of this board

2nd Apr 2002, 17:55
If they had missed that first turn and then happened to go Lost Comm (missing the radio call) and somebody had an itchy finger (and if Pluto was aligned with Uranus) they could've been SHOT DOWN!

And since Murphy's Law is alive and well I'm sure the falling wreckage of the innocent airliner would've descended upon the White House.

Such lack of attention to detail in these days is fairly newsworthy to me--it's a good thing the pilot didn't miss that radio call.

2nd Apr 2002, 18:48

Actually its stunning! Following 9/11,DCA was shutdown forever while the Feds worked out how to get civil aviation in and out of Reagan, without endangering sensitive areas in the DC area. With all the debate and the press coverage that has surrounded DCA here in the USA, well frankly I'm Gobsmacked that so soon after re-opening the place we've had a whoopsie.

2nd Apr 2002, 18:57
hmmm... I wonder did it in fact fly over the WH or just infringe the restricted zone? I suspect the headline was more for drumming up interest. I suspect a serious view would be taken of flying directly overhead GWB's place at any time, never mind post 9-11?

Check 6
2nd Apr 2002, 19:13
This is not a Restricted Area. It is a Prohibited Area. The Flight Deck Crew will most likely face review by the FAA. If smart they will immediately submit ASRS Forms to obtain immunity from any adverse action by the FAA.

2nd Apr 2002, 19:29
If they departed RWY 36, which is likely, then approx. 40 secs after lift off with out the left turn up the river, they would be overhead the White House. Almost a straight line accross the tidal basin and mall. Bingo.

Same true on approach for RWY 18. Over Georgetown at 2000, 142 degress down the river, quick left turn, and 20 secs. overhead the White House.

Don't see how overhead security is effective assistance.

3rd Apr 2002, 00:57
no real biggie. the restricted (prohibited) area extends a mile or more south of the White House itself, and it seems they just intruded a bit on the southern edge. did not fly over the White House itself.
Plane strays into White House airspace
From Patty Davis and Kathleen Koch

WASHINGTON (CNN) --A Frontier Airlines jet flew into restricted airspace near the White House as it took off Monday evening from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Frontier Flight 819, a Boeing 737-300, took off to the north from the Reagan airport and -- instead of turning to the left as required -- continued straight and into restricted airspace, said FAA spokesman Bill Shumann.

The jet was just inside restricted airspace, he said, within two miles of the White House.

Shumann said the FAA will investigate and considers the matter a case of possible "pilot deviation," which the agency defines as "an action of a pilot that violates any federal aviation regulation."

The spokesman said there could be disciplinary action against the pilot in the form of a reprimand or license revocation.

Frontier Airlines is a low-cost airline based in Denver, Colorado.

According to the FAA, this marks the fourth time since September 11 that a commercial aircraft has flown into prohibited airspace over Washington:

On December 22, a commercial aircraft strayed into the restricted airspace.

On January 4, an American Airlines flight taking off from Reagan National made an error similar to that of the Frontier aircraft, continuing straight instead of turning.

On March 8, a U.S. Airways aircraft landing at Reagan National Airport didn't comply promptly with instructions from air traffic controllers and entered the off-limits airspace at 9,000 feet.

On March 21, a Medivac helicopter departing Children's Hospital flew for unknown reasons through the northern edge of prohibited airspace.

The agency said in January that pilots -- 95 percent of them in small planes -- have flown into restricted or prohibited airspace at least 270 times since the terror attacks.

The incidents include 10 times when pilots flew over President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch and 45 times when pilots flew close to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

Other planes flew too close to cities, outdoor sporting events and nuclear power plants, the FAA said.

Violations of the prohibited airspace over Washington were a headache for aviation safety officials even before the terrorist attacks.

There were 13 violations in 1996, 27 in 1997, 43 in 1998, 16 in 1999, 25 in 2000 and 26 in the first three quarters of 2001.

The number of incursions dropped in 1999 after the FAA launched an education campaign and issued new warnings to pilots.

In recent years, roughly one-quarter of those flying into the off-limits airspace over Washington were commercial air carriers. The remainder of violators were small, general aviation aircraft.

3rd Apr 2002, 01:44
well I certainly do not wish that the pilot be met with discipline. That would be a shame.

3rd Apr 2002, 02:06
If you fly into Prohibited Airspace...especially in Washington you could expect more than Pluto to be aligned with Uranus. Infact you might expect Uranus to be sitting in the right hand seat next trip.:confused:

3rd Apr 2002, 13:49
SaturnV, CNN aired a video tape of a reporter preparing for his news report, standing in front of the White House. You could clearly hear the jet passing overhead, and the reporter responding with supprise, that the airplane should not be flying over the White House. Me thinks he messed with the pooch big time.

Romeo Delta
3rd Apr 2002, 14:07
I saw the same video tape, and watching the reporters eyes, you can see where he's looking. It's pretty much directly over the White House.

Supposedly the pilots were in contact with control immediately, and so nothing was done (no flares or scrambled F16s or anything).

But then, with the proximity of the White House to Reagan, what good would F16s be in that situation? Or any situation, for that matter? When the kid in Tampa decided to fly his Cessna into a building, planes were scrambled from MIAMI, even though MacDill AFB is right there in Tampa. (Thank goodness that was a weekend and there was no one in the building.)

I don't know much about how the Air Force handles things, but that seems to me to be a little "off-base". (No pun intended, really.)

3rd Apr 2002, 15:27
April 3, 2002

Frontier Airlines Pilot Suspended


Filed at 1:16 a.m. ET

DENVER (AP) -- A Frontier Airlines pilot who flew a 737 into restricted airspace near the White House has been suspended with pay while airline officials investigate.

Frontier spokeswoman Tracey Kelly said Tuesday the pilot was grounded. She would not release the pilot's name.

The jet, carrying 63 passengers and crew, entered the restricted airspace Monday after taking off from Reagan National Airport on a flight to Denver, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. Air traffic controllers quickly directed the plane out of the airspace.

No fighter jets were sent to escort the plane and it landed in Denver without incident.

4th Apr 2002, 12:38
Having prohibited airspace so close to a major airport is ludicrous to begin with because it cannot be defended effectively since the fighters patroling the area do not have the authority to shoot down aircraft before they enter that airspace. If they would have shot down that airliner before entering the restricted or prohibited airspace, I don't think there would be anyone flying within a 50 mile radius of the airport and therefore Regan National Airport would be history.

4th Apr 2002, 14:10
I guess what was a non event to Aisleman could be due to where he is sitting.

The seats up in the pointy end besides getting a better view do become hot seats from time to time. Could be why they pay us money to sit in em!

DC Meatloaf
4th Apr 2002, 16:45
Here's the latest from the Washington Post. It appears the same crew had been diverted to Dulles earlier that day after getting the approach procedure to DCA wrong...

Story at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58266-2002Apr3.html

Flight Crew Made Numerous Errors
Restricted Airspace Over Capital Was Violated Twice

By Don Phillips
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 4, 2002; Page A03

The Frontier Airlines flight crew that violated restricted airspace over Washington on Monday flew slightly west of the White House and the Washington Monument, then flew directly over the vice presidential residence on the Naval Observatory grounds while trying to get back on course, aviation sources said yesterday.

Earlier that day, the same crew had been forced to land at Dulles International Airport after failing to properly give the password for permission to fly to its original destination, Reagan National Airport.

The crew's two pilots, who have not been identified, have been suspended pending an investigation by the airline and the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said three other commercial flights and a medical helicopter have violated White House airspace since Sept. 11, but none as deeply as the Frontier flight. She said 35 other inbound planes have been diverted to Dulles because of failure to follow proper procedures, with the rate of diversions decreasing steadily each month.

Officials, puzzling yesterday over how one flight crew could make so many mistakes, said the incident involving Frontier Flight 724 points out both the strengths and weaknesses of flight security restrictions at National.

The Secret Service lobbied hard to keep National closed after the Sept. 11 hijackings, sources said, but President Bush decided otherwise after hearing from local officials about the devastating economic impact such a closing would have. Instead, new security measures were imposed, including more searches of passengers and baggage and special flight procedures.

The inbound flight procedures for Flight 724 were clearly successful. Making its initial descent into the Washington area, the plane was ordered to land "short" at Dulles after the crew failed to give the proper password -- which changes daily -- to the proper controller at the proper point.

If necessary, military planes may be called in to escort a plane that fails to give the password, but that apparently did not happen in this case. A North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman in Colorado Springs was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News as saying the incidents were not deemed threatening by the FAA and there was no reason for NORAD to get involved.

Outbound, however, there is little anyone can do when a flight taking off on Runway 19 to the north does not make the proper left turn over the Potomac River. There has long been an urban legend that Stinger missiles are mounted on the White House roof, but sources said that has never been true. Shooting down a plane approaching the White House would only scatter burning fuel and wreckage over the District.

Numerous precautions are taken to remind pilots that they must make a left turn "as soon as practicable" after liftoff from Runway 19, then fly northwest directly over Rosslyn. The area is highlighted on aviation maps and charts, and there is a large sign at the takeoff end of Runway 19 giving pilots a last reminder. A recorded radio message giving airport and weather conditions, which pilots must monitor, always contains a reminder of the restrictions.

According to aviation sources, an air traffic controller in the National tower cleared Flight 819 to take off about 6:30 p.m., then turned his attention to inbound traffic from the south. When he looked north again, he saw that Flight 819 had not turned and immediately ordered the plane to turn left.

While turning, the plane flew directly over a small area of restricted airspace surrounding the vice president's residence in Northwest Washington.

Restricted airspace, called Area P-56A, covers most of downtown Washington from the Lincoln Memorial to Capitol Hill, and from the Tidal Basin to several blocks north of the White House. Area P-56B is the circle of airspace over the vice presidential residence.

The airspace between the two restricted areas is left open so medevac helicopters can fly to hospitals in the area.

Passengers aboard the inbound Frontier flight were never told why they were landing at Dulles. In fact, passenger Lawrence Kaufman of Denver said that after landing, a flight attendant made an announcement welcoming the passengers to National.

"I knew it wasn't National," said Kaufman, a transportation writer.

"I had a window seat so I was looking for the Potomac," he said. "I knew it was dry in the east but not that dry."

The pilot then announced that the plane had been told to land at Dulles, and said he didn't know why. The plane was surrounded by vehicles with flashing lights and escorted to an area away from the terminal.

The pilot got off the plane, then returned later and the plane took off for National. The passenger said the pilot never gave a reason for the diversion.

2002 The Washington Post Company

4th Apr 2002, 19:59
Strange, but you would think the Washington Post could get it right, or at least check out the story.

Having lived in and flown out of the Washington, DC area, I always thought the White House was North of the airport....hum, must have done some remodeling since the election.

4th Apr 2002, 21:39
>>There has long been an urban legend that Stinger missiles are mounted on the White House roof, but sources said that has never been true. Shooting down a plane approaching the White House would only scatter burning fuel and wreckage over the District. <<

Well, they aren't Stingers and they aren't on the White House roof but it would be safe to assume that there is a missile battery (run by an elite Army unit) that defends the White House. They can certainly fire more than the flares mentioned in the article below.


April 4, 2002

94 Planes Flew Into DC No - Fly Zone


Filed at 4:48 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pilots have flown through the prohibited airspace protecting the White House at least 94 times over the past decade, illustrating the challenges of thwarting a terrorist airstrike on the nation's capital.

Even with military jets patrolling the skies, four commercial airliners and a medical helicopter have crossed into Washington's no-fly zone since the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings, Federal Aviation Administration officials say. The latest was on Monday.

In most cases, pilots who violated the airspace protecting the White House, vice presidential mansion and Capitol have gotten penalties less severe than a parking ticket, an Associated Press review of FAA enforcement records found.

Just a month before the September hijackings, a Mesa Airlines flight strayed into prohibited airspace. By November, the matter was closed with a warning letter to the pilot -- common for most cases.

Security experts say violations of the Washington airspace highlight a key reality in the fight against terrorism -- planes that veer into the zone can crash into government installations within seconds.

"Practically speaking, by the time a violation is discovered, it is too late to do anything to prevent a crash into the White House,'' former FAA security chief Billie H. Vincent said.

FAA Deputy Administrator Monte R. Belger said Thursday the agency recognizes there's little time to react once planes penetrate the safety zone and so the government has imposed numerous other precautions to ensure planes with ill intent don't get close.

"The restricted area is kind of the last line of defense,'' Belger said. "The additional on-the-ground security procedures and in-flight protocols put in place give us a much higher level of confidence.''

Borders have been tightened; pilots, flight crews and passengers are screened to weed out possible terrorists, and planes approaching Washington must complete authentication procedures, including providing passwords.

About three dozen planes approaching Reagan National Airport have been turned away since Sept. 11 because they didn't complete the verification process, officials said.

Planes that violate the prohibited zone are quickly warned by the flight tower to correct course, and the Secret Service is alerted. Nearly all pilots comply immediately, officials said.

Military planes that patrol the capital skies are permitted to force such planes to land or, as a last resort, shoot them down if pilots don't respond.

None of the five planes that flew into the protected space since Sept. 11 have required such action, officials said.

In an announcement last fall about improved protection of Washington's airspace, the FAA said pilots who infringed the no-fly zone faced "suspension or revocation of their licenses or a fine.''

But FAA's enforcement database, obtained by AP under the Freedom of Information Act, shows nearly all the violators since 1992 have gotten just a warning letter.

Of the 111 pilots on the 94 flights, just one was fined, for $1,000, and nine had their licenses suspended for between seven to 120 days.

At least 90 cases were settled by administrative action, mostly warning or correction letters, the records show. Four violating pilots had their penalties reversed later.

Reagan National was closed for more than a month after the attacks, and has been gradually reopened to traffic since despite reservations by the Secret Service.

One pilot died when he crashed his small plane into the White House in the mid-1990s; no one else was harmed. In 1999, a pilot drifted so close to the White House that agents fired a warning flare. That pilot ended up with a warning letter, FAA records say.

"Air security is certainly something we deal with on a daily basis, both with being in constant communication with tower at Reagan and with the FAA,'' Secret Service spokesman James Mackin said.

The five most recent airspace violations are still being investigated, including a Frontier Airlines 737 jet that flew over the White House and vice presidential residence on Monday before correcting its path. That pilot has been grounded with pay.

American Airlines has had two jets fly into the zone since Sept. 11, US Airways has had one and the fifth incident involved a medical transport helicopter.

FAA records show violators over the past decade include about three dozen pilots for major commercial airlines, one Air Force pilot, one NASA pilot, a handful of private or foreign pilots and several air transport companies.

American Airlines topped the list of commercial airlines with at least eight pilots cited. US Airways had seven, Continental four and three each from Delta, Northwest and America West.

One pilot caught in the airspace blamed air traffic controllers, saying they are so busy they sometimes order flight maneuvers that send pilots into the prohibited zone.

"The D.C. controllers are absolutely horrible. Washington National is absolutely the worst place to fly into, period,'' said Happy Wells, a 30-year veteran pilot from Oklahoma who was cited in July 1997 for flying his charter plane through Washington's prohibited zone.

Wells said his proposed penalty was rescinded after he filed a report with the FAA.

Operators of Reagan National said the violations aren't necessarily a sign of lax security. Pilots can be knocked off course by something as simple as heavy wind.

FAA says it has settled most cases with warning letters because it believes pilots were operating in good faith at an airport considered one of the toughest to navigate.

Former U.S. Transportation Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo, who highlighted airline safety problems in the 1990s and now works as a lawyer representing airline accident victims, said the small number of suspensions is a sign of laissez-faire enforcement.

"It is fairly typical. The FAA really doesn't like to do enforcement actions, particularly any carrier infringement,'' Schiavo said.

4th Apr 2002, 21:45
The time is loooong overdue to close DCA, permanently. The Senators will HAVE to accept the longer bus (limo) ride elsewhere....tough beans.

5th Apr 2002, 04:09
I would rather see us put it all in real perspective. I guess it seems rather non logical in the scheme of things to close DCA, EVEN as threatening as it may be. Im opposed to surrendering our way of life to such an extent. If cockpit doors are closed I think youve just cut the risk very low already. Creating even more drastic changes is silly. While we all focus on the next terrorist attack coming from suicide bombers, our enemies just pour over the myriad of other options. We didnt see 9/11 coming-- what is happening this minute that we dont see?
If youre going to close any airport then you might as well close them all. I just think were being too cautious.

Ignition Override
5th Apr 2002, 05:54
Just after the other pilot says "positive rate", you say "gear up" and a bright red fire handle light comes on with a loud bell and you momentarily forget to bank left: it could happen. Two trips ago, I pushed the throttles up to (flex) takeoff EPR of 2.00 and the left engine flames out (bad high-pressure fuel pump in P&W JT8D-15, not the shaft).

No matter what happens after the plane lifts off at runway 36 in DCA, the prohibited zone must be avoided, but many distractions could occur (nuisance windshear warning etc). For the laymen out there, we are all trained and re-trained to climb straight ahead with an engine failure or an engine fire light, other than Eagle, Colorado etc.

Speaking of DCA, I certainly wish US Airways a stable future and a committed, dedicated CEO.

Ensign invincible
6th Apr 2002, 03:31
Seems to me there are two possible personality types for 411a.

One, the sky is falling we are all going to die and we should hide in the closet. If this is you I would suggest a looooong walk and carefull consideration of the idea that it does not make sense to shut down every operation that entails risk. This would include all of commercial aviation. I might remind you that we still fly directly over the top of manhatten without restriction. Quite frankly the prohhibitions on flight over the U.S. capital have always struck me as elitist and over protectionistic. If we must have greater security for any airport aren't we really saying that the security is lacking for everyone else? Either we secure our airways for the entire country or we don't.
Two, you work for the big blue airline that hubs out of IAD and see every departure out of DCA as a threat to your companies monopolistic marketing practices. In this case I say to you a hearty f--k you. :eek:

I really would like to know if you have a reasoned explanation for why we should shut down DCA when it is a perfectly servicable facility that generates untold dollars for the economy.

6th Apr 2002, 05:36
Sorry Ensign, wrong on both counts....and I don't even ride on big blue. DCA has outlived its usefullness....should be closed and turned into a shopping mall.

6th Apr 2002, 11:01
Ignition Override
I am surprised by your statement that climb straight ahead is the norm after engine fire/failure.
There are a host of airfields that require an emergency turn in the event of engine failure, with dire consequences if such a turn is not made. With a glass cockpit it is comparatively easy to set the nav display to show the emergency turn as well as the SID and many pilots do this.

6th Apr 2002, 11:42
BigJETS wrote...
If cockpit doors are closed I think youve just cut the risk very low already. Creating even more drastic changes is silly.

Now I don't want to turn this into a discussion of cockpit door policy but time and time again I see people making comments like this.

For years now, haven't FAA regulations stipulated that cockpit doors remain closed for during flight? So why do people persist in making "If the doors were closed then...." type arguments????

7th Apr 2002, 15:39
Ignition Override,

I remember there being a tall pointy obstacle straight out off of Runway 36 at DCA. I'm not sure of the SE climb rate for your aircraft, but you might want to re-think that straight-out fall-back for SE climbouts, especially if you ever plan to fly off Runway 04 at NCE (and I'm sure many other places).

7th Apr 2002, 16:43
>>Ignition Override
I am surprised by your statement that climb straight ahead is the norm after engine fire/failure. <<

In the U.S. it is pretty standard in the sim to request a straight out departure with an engine failure. This is a legacy of the old days and is also used so the instructor can show you a plot of your ground track so they can say whether you stayed within the ten degree heading standard. Of course, the clearance is "runway heading" not "runway track". I've tried to raise the B.S. flag on this before to no avail. Also, many carriers have in-house engine out procedures for some runways that allow them to takeoff at higher gross weights. In many cases ATC has no clue about these procedures and they are dubious at best in the real world IMHO.

In most of the sim checks I've had outside the U.S. you are expected to fly the SID or special engine out procedure after an engine failure while completing the checklist and requesting emergency handling.

Ignition Override
8th Apr 2002, 03:01
All of my simulator training (since '85) on DC-9s and later on 757s with engine failures/fires at V1, required straight out climbs ("tell tower we need straight ahead to about 3,000', declare an ..."), except for Eagle (EGE), Colorado, but the simulated airports for me were never at Washington National, from what I remember. With the exception of EGE using very complex VNAV/LNAV arrivals and departures (with only so much X-track deviation allowed), the emphasis has always been to 'nail down' the heading control, retract the gear and maintain a positive climb rate at V2 minimum, with clean up at 800' AGL or higher (EFCA), or 1,000' etc.

Maybe we should have had some simulated DCA departures.

8th Apr 2002, 17:29
not sure exactly what you mean Stagger...I just wanted to make the point that everyday there are new restrictions on the industry stemming from 9/11/02 . I think closing airports is drastic. I think if cockpits are un accessable in flight (ie. reinforced) then the chances of hijacks must be less since 9/11. Why must we create more and more restrictions (closing airports)? Its already suffocating. you have a problem with this thinking?