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AIM 

6/17/21 

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17.  Visual Warning System (VWS) 

The VWS signal consists of highly-focused red and 
green colored laser lights designed to illuminate in an 
alternating red and green signal pattern. These lasers 
may be directed at specific aircraft suspected of 
making unauthorized entry into the Washington, DC 
Special Flight Rules Area (DC SFRA) proceeding on 
a heading or flight path that may be interpreted as a 
threat or that operate contrary to the operating rules 
for the DC SFRA. The beam is neither hazardous to 
the eyes of pilots/aircrew or passengers, regardless of 
altitude or distance from the source nor will the beam 
affect aircraft systems. 

a. 

If you are communicating with ATC, and this 

signal is directed at your aircraft, you are required to 
contact ATC and advise that you are being 
illuminated by a visual warning system. 

b. 

If this signal is directed at you, and you are not 

communicating with ATC, you are advised to turn to 
the most direct heading away from the center of the 
DC SFRA as soon as possible. Immediately contact 

ATC on an appropriate frequency, VHF Guard 121.5 
or UHF Guard 243.0, and provide your aircraft 
identification, position, and nature of the flight. 
Failure to follow these procedures may result in 
interception by military aircraft. Further noncompli-
ance with interceptor aircraft or ATC may result in the 
use of force. 

c. 

Pilots planning to operate aircraft in or near the 

DC SFRA are to familiarize themselves with aircraft 
intercept procedures. This information applies to all 
aircraft operating within the DC SFRA including 
DOD, Law Enforcement, and aircraft engaged in 
aeromedical operations and does not change 
procedures established for reporting unauthorized 
laser illumination as published in FAA Advisory 
Circulars and Notices. 

REFERENCE

 

CFR 91.161 

d. 

More details including a video demonstration of 

the VWS are available from the following FAA 
website:  www.faasafety.gov/VisualWarningSystem 
/VisualWarning.htm. 

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National Security and Interception Procedures