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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Recovers: FAA Allows Private Pilots to Fly in 15 Metro Areas

Aired October 15, 2001 - 06:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: It took a little while, but commercial pilots have gotten their lives somewhat back to normal now, but private pilots have been under some very tight restrictions since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: The FAA is allowing more private planes back in the sky, though, starting today. The changes affect 15 metro areas, and CNN's Miles O'Brien, of course, a pilot and CNN correspondent, is here to explain what the different is -- hi, Miles.

HARRIS: Hey, Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kyra. Good morning, Leon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the pilots affected by this ban that has been imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Thirty large airports have a 20-mile blanket zone around them under which there are no VFR flights that have been allowed since the attacks.

However, over the weekend, the FAA announced that 15 of those major metropolitan areas will, in fact, be reopened to aircraft owners and pilots who fly small aircraft under visual flight rules. That means essentially they have to look out the window and notice landmarks that way, not filing a flight plan necessarily, not necessarily flying on instruments as an instrument-rated pilot would do.

Let's take a look at some of the places that are going to open up, as we put the map in motion here. The first 15 will be brought out in a three-day stint here, beginning today. You see the Wright Brothers Flyer there from 1903. That's not flying around anymore.

Monday, today: Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Houston and New Orleans. Tuesday, the green dots: Minneapolis, Cleveland, Dallas, Phoenix and Honolulu, not seen on this particular map. And finally the -- oops -- well, I went too far -- that third group of people there -- third cities with the red dots, which included all the way up in the northwest: Seattle and then, let's see, Charlotte, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Covington, Salt Lake City and Tampa, Florida.

So in those 15 metropolitan areas, small aircraft will get an opportunity to fly under visual flight rules. They have to have a transponder, which tells air traffic controllers the altitude of the aircraft, and they have to monitor the National Guard radio frequency, which is a really good idea anytime these days, because of the fact that there are, in fact, National Guard F-15s and F-16s monitoring these situations, and you want to be listening up in case you are identified, for whatever reason, as being somebody who is unfriendly.

These are some pictures of some grounded aircraft in the suburban Washington area, still grounded; 15 other big cities, some of the bigger ones, are still grounded -- and also under any circumstances, no traffic reporting, no banner towing, no sightseeing by helicopters. So there are still a lot of small businesses, which are adversely affected.

This particular airport, Freeway Airport, suburban Maryland -- the owner of that airport had more than three dozen employees on September 10. He's down to about three or four employees now, because 90 percent of the aircraft that park at that particular airfield cannot take off.

So this is a big issue. The National Security Council in close contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and the aircraft owners and Pilots Association trying to work out a solution to increase security at these small airports, so that the government can feel confident these small planes will get back in the air -- Kyra and Leon.

HARRIS: Real quick, buddy. When do you think you're going to get back up in the air?

O'BRIEN: I don't know.

HARRIS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: They haven't put Atlanta on the list. They're still talking -- no timetable has been offered. So we're sitting here, and we are grounded.

There are 41,000 planes in all that were grounded in the wake of that September 11 attack.

HARRIS: Well, that's fine. As long as you are on the ground, it means you have to go to work.

PHILLIPS: I was going to say, he doesn't have time to fly. He's working seven days a week.

HARRIS: Exactly. He's working every day. All right, thanks Miles O'Brien -- we appreciate it.

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