WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The big question that the FAA is still trying to answer is how a plane carrying an army parachute team crossed into restricted airspace without notifying U.S. Capitol Police.
Jack Biddlecomb is a certified flight instructor at Lee Airport in Annapolis and flies within the special bubble of restricted airspace that circles Washington, D.C. He’s still trying to understand how a breakdown in communication with something as complex as flying could even happen.
“The FAA makes sure that you know exactly what the protocols are and that you know what you’re doing… so you’re not violating airspace or any regulations and things like that,” said Biddlecomb. “But it gives you a good overall understanding of exactly what you need to be doing to be able to fly inside D.C. special flight rules area, and any pilot that plans on flying within that airspace needs to complete the training.”
The capitol police say although it is standard protocol for them to be notified in advance of a flyover. In this case, they were not. The army also says they received FAA approval and the pilots had clear communication with the FAA the entire time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already pointing blame at the FAA for their “apparent failure to notify capitol police of the pre-planned flyover.”
A statement released by her office said that “the unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.”
The FAA has launched its own review to investigate what exactly happened. At this time, the FAA did not respond to a request for comment.