Reagan National Airport is the smaller of the two airports, featuring three runways. It has two on-site Fixed Base Operators (FBO) and sees a daily average of 816 flight operations. DCA airport was originally intended for short- to medium-haul flights, while Dulles was reserved for longer hauls and international flights. In fact, DCA has a perimeter rule dating back to 1966, which restricts the distance that certain flights can travel. Currently, only 20 daily flights can exceed the airport’s 1,250-mile perimeter.
As for Washington, D.C. Dulles Airport, it is home to four runways. This airport has a daily average of 799 flight operations, and like Reagan, Dulles Airport has two FBOs on-site.
There are some specific flight requirements depending on the airport, many of which only apply to Reagan airport.
For instance, as of 2005, all aircraft traveling through Reagan National Airport must enroll in the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) DC Access Standard Security Program (DASSP) or obtain a TSA waiver. This program requires all in-bound and out-bound flights to provide itinerary and flight manifests within 24 hours of travel. All DASSP-approved flights must also have an armed security office (ASO) onboard. Unlike federal air marshals, who are hired by the TSA, these private security specialists are often hired by the private charter company.
It is also important to note that Reagan National Airport complies with the DCA Nighttime Noise Rule, which limits certain aircraft from landing or departing between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Non-compliant aircraft may face fines if they operate during the curfew.
Flights through Reagan airport must also comply with the Prohibited Airspace (P-56A and P-56B) regulations. This means that most commercial and private aircraft cannot fly over certain restricted areas, including the airspace above the White House, Naval Observatory, and the U.S. National Mall, which extends east of the U.S. Capitol Building and just west of the Lincoln Memorial. The federal government reserves the right to pursue legal action against pilots who violate these regulations, which could lead to pilot license revocations and even jail time.