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This gun was detected by a TSA officer in an Alexandria, Va., woman’s carry-on bag at Reagan National Airport on Oct. 4. (TSA photo)

An Alexandria woman was caught carrying a loaded gun at a security checkpoint at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday (October 4).

The incident occurred in the early morning, and the woman said that she forgot that she had the gun in her bag, according to the Transportation Security Administration. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police took the weapon and the woman was cited for weapons charges.

“The .380 caliber gun was loaded with six bullets and was detected among the woman’s carry-on items,” TSA said in a release. “She told officials that she forgot that she had her loaded gun with her.”

Firearms caught at Reagan National Airport (DCA)

  • 2022 — 24 guns
  • 2021 — 30 guns
  • 2020 — 10 guns
  • 2019 — 14 guns
  • 2018 — 16 guns
  • 2017 — 13 guns

Nationwide, there were 5,972 guns detected in carry-on bags in 2021, of which 86% were loaded, according to TSA.

“If someone wants to transport their firearm on a flight, they certainly can, as long as it is unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided case and declared as checked baggage with the airline as described on the TSA website,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director at the airport. “The airline representative will make sure the gun is transported in the belly of the airplane where nobody has access to it during the flight.”

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is addressing a key constituent concern — airplane noise — through the just-signed CHIPS Act.

The $280 billion bill is primarily focused on boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but contains other scientific research provisions. Among them is wording from Beyer to “bolster NASA’s efforts to reduce emissions from the aviation industry while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.”

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district,” Beyer said in a statement yesterday. “I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law.”

The legislation “authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions,” Beyer’s office said in a press release.

The roar of jet engines from airliners arriving at and departing from National Airport has long been a concern of Arlington and Alexandria residents, particularly those who live along the flight paths near the Potomac River. Beyer has frequently pledged to address the noise issue from commercial airliners and military helicopters, writing letters to top federal officials about flight paths and attaching legislation to larger bills.

The full press release is below.

President Joe Biden yesterday signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law, which included the first NASA authorization passed by Congress in over five years. That section of the Act, Title VII of the science division, included the full text of Rep. Don Beyer’s Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act. Beyer chairs the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics; he introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act to bolster NASA’s efforts to create the next generation of climate-friendly aviation while also reducing the impact of airplane noise in airport-adjacent communities.

“Climate change and aircraft noise have always been two of the most consistent constituent concerns in my district. I wrote a bill to address both problems – the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act – which President Biden just signed into law,” said Beyer. “As the climate crisis continues to harm American communities, ensuring we are also tackling aviation emissions is vital. This piece of legislation does just that by making the necessary investments to develop the technology to make cleaner flight a reality in addition to driving innovation that would reduce aircraft noise pollution.” 

This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes, accelerating NASA’s aeronautics work on reducing greenhouse gas and noise emissions. Specifically, this bill:

  • Establishes the ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less greenhouse gas compared to the highest performing aircraft in 2021 as well as being net-zero by 2050.
  • Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 that will enable industry to bring a new generation of more sustainable airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.
  • Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.
  • Requires NASA to provide data and insight on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.

Text of the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act is available here.

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Alexandria man’s firearm confiscated by airport security, photo courtesy TSA

An Alexandria man received a citation after he was caught at National Airport bringing a gun through security.

According to a press release from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a TSA officer caught the gun among carry-on items at a security checkpoint.

“A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented an Alexandria, Va., man from bringing a handgun onto his flight on Saturday, Jan. 16. It was the third gun detected by TSA Officers since the start of the new year.”

The TSA specified that the gun was not loaded and was stored among the man’s carry-on items. The gun was confiscated and the man was cited with a weapons charge.

“It has not been a good start to the new year for each individual who has been caught carrying a handgun to our checkpoints,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport, in the press release. “Each individual faces a stiff financial civil penalty that could stretch into thousands of dollars. My advice to firearm owners who want to transport their guns is to familiarize yourself with the proper way to pack a gun for a flight. That information is readily available on the TSA website. Doing so is simply part of being a responsible gun owner.”

The TSA noted that passengers are permitted to bring firearms onto planes, but only as checked baggage.

“Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter,” the release said. “Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.”

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As it turns out, the uptick in airplane noise over Alexandria is one of the many little side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At an update to the City Council last night, Steve Thayer, the city’s representative on the Reagan National Airport Community Working Group, said that there have been a few recent changes that may be causing locals to hear more planes overhead. On paper, airplanes leaving National Airport are not supposed to turn away from a path down the center of the Potomac until they hit a point south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Due to coronavirus’ impacts on the airline industry, Thayer said the Federal Aviation Administration briefly suspended rules keeping airplanes from deviating their designated flight path along the Potomac River.

“In 2019, the FAA published an advisory to air traffic controllers not to allow deviations,” Thayer said. “Unfortunately, while that was working, when COVID hit in order to save money and time for fuel they started allowing deviations. We’re now back to 80% of where we were pre-COVID. We’ve been talking with FAA and they’ve said they will be returning to pre-COVID protocols.”

Those deviations over Alexandria are also in part caused by updates to navigation tools, which like drivers following Google Maps instructions jamming up neighborhood streets, is caused by pilots using more GPS navigation than before.

Thayer explained that when the planes switched over to the newest generation of hardware, they switched to GPS over analog mapping, which pushes planes more frequently onto flight paths over the city.

Lastly, Thayer said the city is fighting to hold the line on keeping more late-night trips from leaving National Airport.

“[There’s an] increase in demand for late night and early morning flights,” Thayer said. “Because we are a federally operated airport, congress is the one body that has to approve any increases in those flights. The working group, along with the city and others, have objected to any increase in those flights.”

Thayer said the city increased in having fewer late-night/early morning slots granted than asked for, with no additional slots provided in 2020.

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It’s another beautiful, sunny day in Old Town where you occasionally can’t hear the person standing next to you speaking because an airplane from National Airport is flying directly overhead.

Sound familiar?

Airplane noise has been constant source of frustration in recent years for residents of Alexandria and neighborhoods in Fairfax just to the south. If you’ve complained that it seems like it’s gotten worse lately, the city confirmed that suspicion in a presentation for a meeting planned next Tuesday (Oct. 26).

“Aircraft take-offs (are) no longer staying over the Potomac River,” the report noted. “NextGen technology allows earlier turns, closer to the airport. FAA noise screening analysis showed an increase in noise for a few blocks in Alexandria. Fairfax County and Prince George’s County have similar noise issues.”

The city’s aim, according to the presentation, is to push that overhead airplane traffic toward the center of the river and further south.

“[The city objective is] to push the flight path to the east toward the center of the Potomac River, further away from the City,” the presentation said, “[and] reduce the number of early east and west turning movements before the Woodrow Wilson bridge.”

The presentation noted that City Manager Mark Jinks has been working with affected jurisdictions nearby — Prince George’s County and Fairfax County — to hire a consultant to study possible noise mitigation measures. The Study is $250,000 being split between the three jurisdictions.

Even so, the presentation warned that any potential fixes are still years way.

“Due to the long process, many stakeholders, and the backlog of flight path modifications under consideration by the FAA, it is expected that any proposed flight path modifications will not be reviewed and potentially changed for another two to three years,” the city said.

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What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.

This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.

The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
  2. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  3. Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
  4. Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
  5. No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
  6. DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
  7. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  8. After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
  9. New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
  10. Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
  11. Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs

Have a safe weekend!

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An Alexandria man was caught trying to get past a security checkpoint with a .38 caliber handgun and seven bullets at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Friday, July 18.

The man had his weapon confiscated and now faces upward of $10,000 in federal financial civil penalties.

This was the sixth gun that Transportation Security Administration officers seized in a little more than a week. Three guns and a knife were recovered on July 14, and guns were also found on July 8 and July 11. So far this year there have been 18 guns caught at National Airport, an increase from 10 guns in 2020, 14 guns in 2019, 16 gunds in 2018 and 13 guns in 2017.

“The number of guns that our TSA team here at Reagan National Airport have caught this year has skyrocketed,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for Reagan National Airport. “We have caught more guns in just the first seven months of this year than any other full calendar year. The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot that they had their gun with them. That’s just not acceptable. And let me be clear that even if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, you still cannot bring it on to your flight. Bringing a loaded gun to a checkpoint is careless and an accident waiting to happen. If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times.”

Passengers are allowed to check their firearms, provided that they are declared and in hard-sided and locked cases.

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Morning Notes

More on Alexandria’s New Fire Chief — Newly-appointed Alexandria Fire Chief Corey Smedley “is now working with the city manager’s office on a number of budget issues. He recently submitted a budget proposal to the city manager, and said that he is working to improve the pay for Alexandria’s first responders, which is among the lowest in the region.” [Zebra]

City Ready for Winter Weather — “Responding to winter weather events is a top priority for the City of Alexandria. City crews clear snow from more than 560 lane miles of roadway, 20 miles of City-owned walkways and trails, and 44 acres of municipal parking lots or City-owned squares.” [City of Alexandria]

Northam Proposes Nixing Vehicle Inspections — “Gov. Ralph Northam wants to end state-mandated vehicle safety inspections and cut vehicle registration fees in half, proposals his administration says would eventually save Virginians more than $280 million per year. But motorists would have to pay a few dollars more each time they fill up on gas under a proposal to increase the state’s motor vehicle fuels tax from about 22 cents per gallon to 34 cents per gallon over three years.” [Virginia Mercury]

Beyer Pushing for Quieter Airplanes — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has long advocated against excessive noise from aircraft landing at and taking off from Reagan National Airport, is calling on NASA to study ways to make commercial jetliners quieter and cleaner in a new bill. [Press Release]

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