Flying The ADIZ

Submitted By: A. Harton

What is an ADIZ
ADIZ stands for Air Defence Identification Zone. It’s important to note that we speak of a zone and not a line. Much of the literature will speak of “crossing the ADIZ” since most aircraft operating in the zone are transiting to the other side such as aircraft departing Vancouver and headed to Asia. However, the regulations dictate operations within the zone and that is how I will frame this article.
A short and sweet explanation of how an ADIZ works:

The ADIZ is an area in which everything in the air is identified, hence “Identification Zone”. For the Canada ADIZ, a nice airwoman or airman sits at a desk at NORAD’s Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre in North Bay, Ontario and makes sure that 100% of “tracks” (radar contact or the likes) has a unique identifier attached to it. So they know exactly who is operating in the ADIZ. When a new track appears in the ADIZ or approaches the ADIZ, they have a very strict protocol and a time limit to identify this track. They can use various sources of information such as ATC (they are plugged into NavCanada’s system) to positively identify the aircraft or flight plan information.

If there is someone or something in the ADIZ that they cannot identify, this is when that airman or airwoman get’s really upset with you for impacting their 100% success rate at identification and bells start ringing and you become a “TOI” (track of interest). You don’t want to be a track of interest. This is when additional steps will be taken to identify you which can lead up to, potentially, a fighter intercept.

Flying in the Canadian ADIZ

Aircraft Requirements
To operate within the Canada ADIZ you will require a transponder with altitude reporting and a two-way radio.

CARs Procedures
CARs 602.145
To Take-Off Outside of the ADIZ and entering the ADIZ

  1. File a Defence VFR Flight Plan
    1. This is basically the same thing as a VFR Flight Plan except that NORAD will be CC’ed on it. You will also provide the point at which you will enter the ADIZ (zone) and your estimated time of entering the zone in the remarks sections.
  2. After take-off provide position report to an aeronautical facility (ATC, FIC, FSS, CARS)
    1. Report prior to ADIZ penetration at a reporting point (at some ADIZ in the US)
    2. Report at least 15 minutes prior to penetration
      1. If departure airport is too close to the ADIZ, report immediately after takeoff
    3. If Possible, get flight following from ATC such as Vancouver Centre
  3. As you approach the ADIZ, you must be within 20 nautical miles and plus or minus 5 minutes of the point specified in your flight plan. If you will not meet these tolerances, simply revise your and point with an ATC Unit, FIC, FSS or CARS.

Take-Off within the zone

  1. File a Defence VFR Flight Plan
  2. Immediately after take-off, provide position report to an aeronautical facility (ATC, FIC, FSS, CARS) No penetration point needs to be given for leaving. The reason is that NORAD no longer cares about you once you’re outside of their zone and you entered the zone once airborne and they identified you then.

Flying in the US ADIZ

(Alaska, Contiguous US, Hawaii, Guam)
American rules are contained in 14 CFR Part 99
Except for the rules contained in 99.7, 99.13 and 99.15, the subpart instructions don’t apply if:

  1. Contiguous 48 States and DC: You remain within 10 nautical miles of the point of departure.
  2. Hawaii:

    1. Less than 180 knots TAS: Within the Hawaii ADIZ
    2. 180 knots TAS and over: over any island, within 12 nautical miles of the coastline of any island within the Hawaii ADIZ
  3. Alaska:

    1. You remain within 10 nautical miles of the point of departure.
    2. Less than 180 knots: Within the Alaska ADIZ and the pilot maintains a continuous listening watch on the appropriate frequency
  4. Guam:

    1. Less than 180 knots TAS: Within the Guam ADIZ.
  5. FAA ATC center exemption: may exempt you on a local basis only and with the concurrence of the U.S. military commanders concerned or pursuant to an agreement with US Federal Security or Intelligence agency in the following situations:

    1. If operations are conducted wholly within the boundaries of an ADIZ and not a significant to the air defence system.
    2. Operations conducted in accordance with special procedures prescribed by the US Military or a US Federal security or intelligence agency concerned.

99.7 Special Security Instructions (Never Exempt)
Essentially requires compliance with things such as TFRs and ESCAT.

99.9 Radio Requirements (May be Exempt)
Must have a functioning two way radio. If your radio fails, you must land as soon as practicable and report the failure to an appropriate aeronautical facility ASAP.
Must have a DVFR flight plan with penetration time and point and depart within 5 minutes of the time in the flight plan.

99.11 ADIZ flight Plan Requirements (May be Exempt)
To operate into, within or from a departure point within an ADIZ, you must file, activate and close a flight plan. It must contain the standard VFR flight plan data (Mark, Departure Point, Arrival Point, etc.) and designate it a DVFR flight plan.

99.13 Transponder Requirements (Never Exempt)
Requires that you operate a transponder, if your aircraft is equipped, when flying into or out of the US as well as into, within or out of any American ADIZ.
Your aircraft must have a transponder installed if operating into or out of the US as well as into, within or out of the Contiguous US ADIZ unless the aircraft was originally certificated without an engine driven electrical system.

99.15 Position Reports (Never exempt)
Pilot must report to an appropriate aeronautical facility before penetration either:

  1. The time, position and altitude passing the last reporting point before penetration and the ETA over the next reporting point.
  2. If no reporting points: 15 minutes before penetration with the time, position and altitude at the point of penetration.

If the departure airport is within an ADIZ or too close to comply with instructions above, the pilot must report immediately report after departure: the time of departure, the altitude and the ETA over the first reporting point.

99.17 Deviation from Flight Plans (May be exempt)
You may not deviate from your flight plan unless you notify an appropriate aeronautical facility prior to deviation.

Position Tolerances

  1. Over Land:
    1. + / – 5 Minutes
    2. 10 Nautical Miles
  2. Over Water
    1. + / – 5 minutes
    2. Within 20 Nautical Miles

Land Based ADIZ
The US may activate or deactivate an ADIZ over U.S. Metro areas. It’s important to check the NOTAMs for these.

Washington ADIZ
Lots of procedures here, I won’t get into them as it is rare for BC Flyers but they can be found here:

Alaska Summary
To fly into the Alaska ADIZ if you flying at less than 180 KTAS, you need to have a transponder on if you have one and you must report 15 minutes prior to entering the  ADIZ with your time, position and altitude of your point of penetration.

Disclaimer: Rules have been summarized for VFR flights, rules may be somewhat different if flying IFR. Aspects of the rules that are common to ordinary VFR flying or extraordinary flying (gliders, balloons, etc.) have also been excluded from this summary. It is your responsibility to read and know the rules prior to take-off.