Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport or just DCA, is noted for its proximity to Washington, DC, for spectacular views of the capital across the Potomac River, and for the River Visual approach to runway 19. The airport is also noted for its 1,250-mile perimeter rule (49 U.S.C. § 49109) which prohibits flights to/from airports more than 1,250 miles. This rule was created to protect service at Washington Dulles International Airport (ranked #21 amongst U.S. airports by passenger emplanements in 2008), and to reduce noise (a far more compelling reason when airlines were flying noisy 1960s-era aircraft instead of relatively quiet Stage III aircraft).
24 beyond-perimeter exemptions are authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 41718. These examptions are granted as 12 takeoff-and-landing slot pairs by the U.S. Department of Transportation and are currently allocated as follows:
Many major U.S. airports besides the six served via exemptions are beyond the perimeter but are prohibited from having non-stop access to DCA. Meanwhile, international service to the U.S. capital's closest airport is operated from five cities: Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Nassau (Bahamas), and Bermuda (seasonal).
Numerous attempts have been made to repeal the perimeter rule for DCA, most recently S. 36 introduced in the Senate last year by Arizona's Senator John McCain, but for now service continues to be restricted by this arbitrary rule.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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