Over Flying Nuclear Power Plant
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As I understand it, after 9/11 the FAA issued a regulation prohibiting aircraft from overflying nuclear power plants, dams, and other sites of national security. Is this regulation still in place and where can I find if? Thanks in advance for your help. 
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1037 Posts
I have never heard anything one way or the other about shooting airplanes overhead, but I'm pretty sure that if you tried to ram the front gate of a nuc power plant in your car, the private guards would be authorized to, and would in fact, open fire, so I guess it's possible.  Either way, I ain't gonna press-to-test on this by, say, practicing turns-around-a-point at 700 AGL around the cooling towers at the Pottstown PA nuclear power plant.
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Thanks for that clarification Ronald. Yes I get it, just gotta get the words right! Part of this is that another poster talked about private security getting "clearance" to shoot at airplanes. Is that really a thing? I can't imagine.
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1037 Posts
Randall Henderson:
I was only commenting on how impactful it would be if we had after 9-11 (or in the future) wound up with actual restricted areas around all these places instead of an advisory.

First, it's not an advisory, it's a regulation.  But it does allow you to overfly as long as you don't linger, and that was your concern.

Second, as for creating Restricted Areas over those sites, they don't meet the legal requirements for creating a Restricted Area, specifically, activities which are hazardous to nonparticipants.  In order to create a permanent ban on overflight on the basis of national security, they'd have to create Prohibited Areas like the ones over the King's Bay and Bremerton sub bases, and I don't think they'd be able to make the legal case to do that.

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Thanks Ronald. I didn't mis-read, please read my whole post. I was only commenting on how impactful it would be if we had after 9-11 (or in the future) wound up with actual restricted areas around all these places instead of an advisory.
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1037 Posts
Randall Henderson:

... it would be difficult or impossible to transit the Gorge without going within a mile or less of Bonneville dam.

Perhaps Randall misread the NOTAM. It does not prohibit overflight, just "circl[ing] so as to loiter" over those facilities.  So he can certainly transit that area passing within a mile of the dam without violating that rule.

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I think we have AOPA to thank for helping ensure this wound up as an advisory rather than what would would otherwise amount to literally thousands of new restricted areas.

Here in Oregon something like that would seriously hamstring VFR pilots wanting to get from west to east of the Cascade mountain range when weather is below 5000' or so... the Columbia River Gorge is how we do that, and the ceiling doesn't have to be low at all before it would be difficult or impossible to transit the Gorge without going within a mile or less of Bonneville dam. And of course our little GA aircraft are no threat to dams. If you watch any WWII documentaries (and who doesn't?) you know that it would take a BIG aircraft with a whole lot of explosives to do much damage to one.