Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (IATA: DCA, ICAO: KDCA, FAA LID: DCA), is located in Arlington, Virginia, next to the border of Washington, D.C. It is the smaller of two airports operated by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority that serves the National Capital Region around Washington. The airport is 5 miles (8.0 km) from downtown Washington D.C.. The airport's original name was Washington National Airport. Congress adopted the present name to honor President Ronald Reagan in 1998. The airport served almost 24 2million passengers in 2019.
Flights into and out of the airport are generally not allowed to exceed 1,250 statute miles (2,010 km) in any direction nonstop, in an effort to send coast-to-coast and overseas traffic to Washington Dulles International Airport, though there are 40 slot exemptions to this rule. Planes are required to take unusually complicated paths to avoid restricted and prohibited airspace above sensitive landmarks, government buildings, and military installations in and around Washington, D.C., and to comply with some of the tightest noise restrictions in the country.
The airport's small size constrains its capacity, but Reagan National currently serves 98 nonstop destinations. Reagan is a hub for American Airlines. The airport has no United States immigration and customs facilities; the only scheduled international flights at the airport are those from airports with U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance facilities, which generally encompasses flights from major airports in Canada and from some destinations in the Caribbean. Other international passenger flights to the Washington, D.C., area use Washington Dulles International Airport or Baltimore–Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. There are currently five scheduled international routes, which are to cities in Canada, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
The grooving of runway 18–36 to improve traction when wet, in March 1967, was the first at a civil airport in the United States. Service to the airport's Metro station began in 1977. The Washington National Airport Terminal and South Hangar Line were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Reagan National Airport has some of the strictest noise restrictions in the country. In addition, due to security concerns, the areas surrounding the National Mall and U.S. Naval Observatory in central Washington are prohibited airspace up to 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Due to these restrictions, pilots approaching from the north are generally required to follow the path of the Potomac River and turn just before landing. This approach is known as the River Visual. Similarly, flights taking off to the north are required to climb quickly and turn left. The "River Visual" is only possible with a ceiling of at least 3,500 feet (1,100 m) and visibility of 3 statute miles (4.8 km) or more. There are lights on the Key Bridge, Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Arlington Memorial Bridge, and the George Mason Memorial Bridge to aid pilots following the river. When the River Visual is not available due to visibility or winds, aircraft may fly an offset localizer or GPS approach to Runway 19 along a similar course. Most airliners are also capable of performing a VOR or GPS approach to the shorter Runway 15/33. Northbound visual and ILS approaches to Runway 1 are also sometimes used; these approaches follow the Potomac River from the south and overfly the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
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