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Feds put flight restrictions into effect for September 11

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Federal officials put into effect special rules on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, including limits on planes in a 30-mile wide area centered on Ground Zero and how long passengers must stay in their seats.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said the restrictions applied during public events commemorating Sept. 11 not only in New York but also in Washington and Shanksville, Pa., the sites of the four terrorist assaults last year.

The flight rules kept most private pilots of small planes out of the New York area and were effective until Friday evening.

The FAA imposed “extensive limits” on flying within a 30-nautical-mile (34.5 statute miles) radius of the Sept. 11 memorial sites at altitudes below 18,000 feet.

For airline flights into and out of all airports in these areas, the “30-minute seating rule” applied.

“That means all passengers must remain seated for 30 minutes after takeoff and for 30 minutes prior to landing,” the FAA said. The agency said that rule had been in effect since October for flights in and out of Reagan Washington National Airport.

Small private planes, or at least those operated by pilots using visual flight rules as opposed to instrument flying, were banned. Private plane pilots were required to file flight plans six hours in advance rather than as late as shortly before departure.

The FAA also imposed what it called “special air traffic management procedures” on all flights including foreign airlines in New York, Washington and Somerset County, Pa., the airport for Shankville. The agency did not elaborate.

The flight rules were in effect from 7 a.m. on Sept. 11, until 8 p.m. Friday.

The center of the 30-nautical-mile restricted area was Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers had stood.

The rules applied to Washington because of the attack on the Pentagon and at Shanksville, Pa. where one of the jetliners hijacked on Sept. 11 crashed after what authorities believe was a successful attempt by passengers to thwart a suicide mission against the Capitol in Washington.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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