Presidential TFR Disrupts Chicago Airspace

 - February 17, 2009, 11:04 AM

More than 20 Chicagoland airports experienced significant operational disruption as a result of the presidential temporary flight restriction (TFR) imposed over the past weekend. The TFR centered on downtown Chicago, in close proximity to President Obama’s residence immediately to the south, and extended out as far as 30 miles up to 18,000 feet. Aside from the air traffic freeze during Obama’s Saturday arrival and Monday departure, the TFR’s tight control over aircraft operations played havoc with Chicago airspace over the full weekend. Part 121, 125 and 135 operators in compliance with the TSA’s Standard Security Program (SSP) had access to both O’Hare and Midway Airports. General aviation and business aircraft not on an SSP were required to land at gateway airports in Rockford (RFD), Peoria (PIA) or South Bend (SBN) to be vetted by the TSA before being allowed to proceed to either ORD or MDW. Aircraft flying to any of the other airports within the TFR were required to receive and adhere to a clearance to enter the airspace. The TFR also cut deeply into revenue for FBOs, flight schools, banner-towing operations and others. If Obama adheres to his plan to visit his Chicago residence at least once every six weeks, similar TFRs will be enforced about 34 more times throughout his first term.