Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta
Department of Transportation
Washington, D.C.
September 14, 2001

Secretary Mineta Re-Opens Skies to General Aviation

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta has approved restoration of the next phase of national air service, allowing certain general aviation flights back into the air effective at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time today.

"Effective today, general aviation - that important segment of aviation consisting of privately owned and operated aircraft - will be allowed to resume flights operating under Instrument Flight Rules, or IFR," Secretary Mineta said. "Under IFR, certified pilots operate under direction from air traffic controllers, after filing specific flight plans with the FAA."

Temporarily, however, general aviation flights will not be allowed to fly within 25 nautical miles of New York City and Washington, D.C. Those restrictions will be kept in place until further notice as officials continue to assess the recovery situation in those cities over the near term.

The Secretary's decision today also permits the FAA to allow private aircraft owners to evacuate their aircraft under visual flight rules from harm's way during the predicted approach of Tropical Storm Gabrielle within the states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama.

Secretary Mineta said he is hopeful that the remaining general aviation flights, those operating under Visual Flight Rules, can resume flying later this weekend. Commercial flights were allowed to resume on Thursday, contingent upon airline and airport compliance with heightened security standards established by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We are restoring the national airspace system in a phased manner, after careful evaluation of the safety and security issues in each sector," the Secretary said. "Again, I ask the patience of the flying public. Please remember that we are recovering from a massive disruption and widespread shock. But very soon we will work our way back to full recovery."

There are more than 200,000 privately owned and operated aircraft registered in the United States.