Recognizing the importance and demand for nonstop access between North Dallas and the nation’s capital, Million Air Dallas tackled the stringent Transportation Security Administration requirements that would authorize this connection between Addison Airport and the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.
The effort earned two TSA gateway approvals, said Jeff Carr, Million Air’s vice president of FBO operations. The first designated Million Air as a security gateway that enables the FBO’s customers to make nonstop flights to Washington. The second designated it as an Authorized Aircraft Operator, which gives select members of its 15-aircraft charter fleet nonstop access to Washington National Airport.
The requirements for both are similar. Flights must depart Addison during the designated window that’s open between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., said Carr. Customers must request nonstop access to Washington National by contacting Million Air about a week in advance so TSA can conduct the necessary security checks of the crew and passengers. “Once flights are planned, there can be no changes in aircraft, crew, passengers, or flight schedule,” he continued. “If there are changes, the process starts again from the beginning.”
To earn the authorization, Million Air had to include the TSA requirements in the FBO’s security plan, acquire some necessary equipment, and create a designated security screening area that isolates screened passengers from outsiders until they board their flight, just as airline passengers are isolated once they pass through security checks conducted by a TSA team that travels to Addison.
As they do at commercial airports, the TSA team will inspect the aircraft, its crew, its passengers, and all carry-on and stored baggage. Everyone must possess and present valid, government-issued picture identification, and the inspectors will not accept expired IDs. Million Air’s designated security coordinator makes all of the necessary security arrangements.
“The biggest thing for us,” said Carr, “was training our pilots and ground personnel on the TSA’s requirements for aircraft destined for Washington National.” All of Million Air’s personnel underwent background checks, “with pilots subject to more intense scrutiny than the ground personnel.” The security processes they learned and follow apply equally to charter and private flights to Washington.
Earning the TSA designation took roughly six weeks, said Carr. As the primary hub of business aviation in North Texas, and as its leading charter operator, said Carr, becoming a gateway for nonstop flights to Washington, D.C., was an investment important to Million Air’s customers and the area’s economy.