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Flight Into "Defense Area" on southern US border
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What are the rules for flying in a "Defense Area" and near the US Border with Mexico?  How do I know if I am in a "Defense Area"?  How do I know if I am in the ADIZ?  Do I have to file a flight plan and be in continuous communication when flying 10 miles, 100 miles, or 1000 miles of the US border?  

I am planning a flight that is completely within US territory, but passes within 10 miles, and terminates within 10 miles of the southern US border with Mexico.  In doing so, I note that the aeronautical map notes the area to an undesignated distance north to be a "Defense Area", and the area of undesignated width and position along the border to be "Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).  


14 CFR 99.1 - Applicability says: 
"(a) This subpart prescribes rules for operating all aircraft . . .  in a defense area, or into, within, or out of the United States through an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) designated in subpart B." 

Subpart B just lists a long paragraph of survey lat/long coordinates, that is indecipherable to the pilot who does not also have a survey license!  


14 CFR 99.3 defines ADIZ and Defense Area as:
“Air defense identification zone (ADIZ) means an area of airspace over land or water in which the ready identification, location, and control of all aircraft (except for Department of Defense and law enforcement aircraft) is required in the interest of national security. 
Defense area means any airspace of the contiguous United States that is not an ADIZ in which the control of aircraft is required for reasons of national security."  

Is the whole continental US in a "Defense Area" by this definition?  


14 CFR 99.7 - Special security instructions.
“Each person operating an aircraft in an ADIZ or Defense Area must . . . comply with special security instructions issued by the Administrator in the interest of national security, pursuant to agreement between the FAA and the Department of Defense, or between the FAA and a U.S. Federal security or intelligence agency.

How can I determine what the “special security instructions” require? 


14 CFR 99.11 - ADIZ flight plan requirements.
“(a) No person may operate an aircraft into, within, or from a departure point within an ADIZ, unless the person files, activates, and closes a flight plan with the appropriate aeronautical facility, or is otherwise authorized by air traffic control.” 

I’m fine with this, but I still don’t know if the ADIZ is on the US side of the border, and if I will pass through it!    

The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) states:
“g. Special Security Instructions.
1. Each person operating an aircraft in an ADIZ or Defense Area must, in addition to the applicable rules of part 99, comply with special security instructions issued by the Administrator in the interest of national security, pursuant to agreement between the FAA and the Department of Defense, or between the FAA and a U.S. Federal security or intelligence agency.
2. Defense Area means any airspace of the contiguous United States that is not an ADIZ in which the control of aircraft is required for reasons of national security.” 
Figure 5.6.3 of the AIM seems to show the southern US border ADIZ to be to the south of, and outside of US territory.  
3 Replies
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1218 Posts
ADIZ's are clearly marked on your sectional chart (which you should have while flying), and you should know where you are, so you should know if you're in one.  There is no specific mileage requirement involved -- either you're in it, and the relevant rules apply, or you're not, and they don't.  As for Defense Areas, while the term exists in Part 99, there are no special rules for operating in one -- only for operating in an ADIZ.  And I know of nowhere that the Contiguous U.S. ADIZ extends inside the US border; the line along the US-Mexico border is the inner boundary of the ADIZ, not outer, so if you stay north of it, you're north of the ADIZ.  So if even if you're flying within 10 miles of the US border, as long as you stay inside the US border, there are no special rules to follow.  Any "special security instructions" will be issued as FDC NOTAMs, which you will receive as part of your briefing from FSS or other authorized QIPC briefing provider like Foreflight or FltPlan.com.

That said, do review the FDC NOTAM on intercepts and the correct procedure to follow if you are intercepted, as the areas along the border are patrolled by CBP aircraft who have the authority to intercept you if they have reasonable suspicion that you're doing something improper.

NATIONAL AIRSPACE SYSTEM INTERCEPT PROCEDURES. AVIATORS SHALL REVIEW THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION AERONAUTICAL INFORMATION MANUAL (AIM) FOR INTERCEPTION PROCEDURES, CHAPTER 5, SECTION 6, PARAGRAPH 5-6-2. ALL AIRCRAFT OPERATING IN UNITED STATES NATIONAL AIRSPACE, IF CAPABLE, SHALL MAINTAIN A LISTENING WATCH ON VHF GUARD 121.5 OR UHF 243.0. IF AN AIRCRAFT IS INTERCEPTED BY U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT AND FLARES ARE DISPENSED, THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES ARE TO BE FOLLOWED: FOLLOW THE INTERCEPT'S VISUAL SIGNALS, CONTACT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL IMMEDIATELY ON THE LOCAL FREQUENCY OR ON VHF GUARD 121.5 OR UHF GUARD 243.0, AND COMPLY WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN BY THE INTERCEPTING AIRCRAFT INCLUDING VISUAL SIGNALS IF UNABLE RADIO CONTACT. BE ADVISED THAT NONCOMPLIANCE MAY RESULT IN THE USE OF FORCE.

Finally, I would suggest that while operating that close to the border, it's a real good idea to obtain and maintain flight following with ATC, if nothing else, to help stay out of the many Restricted, Military Operating, and TFR Areas along the border.
Votes
Ron,
Thanks for the reply!  
How do you know that the ADIZ is not inside the border?  I think you are correct that it is only outside our borders, (this isn't clear on the chart) but when the Blackhawk Helicopter intercepts me within 5 miles of the border, should I use you as my defense?  I have up-to-date charts, always get a phone brief, and was planning on using flight following, but I can imagine how the remoteness of this area, ceiling heights, etc. could prevent me from using ATC service.  It just seems that these regulations are vague enough that I would have a difficult time defending myself!  I was hoping that someone knew of a more helpful reference from the FAA.  
Dan
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1218 Posts
Dan Fauber:
Ron,
Thanks for the reply!  

You're welcome.
Dan Fauber:
How do you know that the ADIZ is not inside the border?

Because the inner boundary is clearly shown along the border on the sectional chart and clearly defined that way in 14 CFR 99.43.
 
Dan Fauber:
I think you are correct that it is only outside our borders, (this isn't clear on the chart) but when the Blackhawk Helicopter intercepts me within 5 miles of the border, should I use you as my defense? 

No. Just use the ADIZ limits in 14 CFR 99.43.
 
Dan Fauber:

It just seems that these regulations are vague enough that I would have a difficult time defending myself!  I was hoping that someone knew of a more helpful reference from the FAA.  

Like the definition of the Contiguous US ADIZ in 99.43?