Media is better source for TFR areas

 - August 11, 2008, 7:22 AM

Warning that TFRs should be expected for any Presidential and Vice Presidential visits, NBAA is encouraging its members to monitor media reports of planned VIP events to assist in long-range planning.

As of mid-August, the association issued a list of 12 possible fundraising events for this month that will be attended by either President Bush or Vice President Cheney. And now First Lady Laura Bush has been added to the mix for a September 15 visit to Mobile, Ala.

“Since the TFRs are announced shortly before they go into effect, members must continue to use all resources to prevent flying into restricted airspace,” said NBAA. “In addition to talking to an FSS specialist, operators can use the FAA NAIMES Web site to check for the latest TFRs.” NAIMES is the NAS Aeronautical Information Management Enterprise System, and a link can be found on NBAA’s Web site (

AOPA has complained about late notification of impending presidential TFRs. “Less than 12 hours’ advance notice has become the norm, and the problem is growing worse with each passing week,” AOPA president Phil Boyer said in a July 30 letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. He called the late notification especially troubling because AOPA has been able to determine the President’s travel plans days in advance through publicly available information.

“A perfect example is Friday, July 18, when AOPA learned that the President was planning to be in the Philadelphia and Detroit areas the following Thursday (almost a full week in advance),” Boyer wrote. “However, at the normal close of business on Wednesday, July 23, the FAA had not published the flight restrictions for the very next morning, in areas of heavy general aviation operations.”

Boyer said heightened security and stricter enforcement of flight restrictions have forced AOPA to have staff on call 24/7 to post the latest information available on the association’s Web site, and notify pilots in the vicinity of a newly imposed TFR via e-mail. But he said he sees no such commitment from the FAA.

In other security issues, when Congress returns this month from its annual summer recess, it will take up the pending FAA reauthorization, which contains a provision that requires the transportation secretary to report back every 60 days on why the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the Washington-Baltimore area is still needed and what steps the FAA is taking to smooth operations within the zone.

Another bill pending in Congress, the Aviation and Security and Technical Corrections and Improvements Act, would order the FAA Administrator, the Department of Homeland Security’s undersecretary for border and transportation security and the director of the Secret Service to develop procedures for allowing non-commercial aircraft operational access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) when there is compliance with a DHS-approved security program. The provision would also provide the Transportation Security Administration with the authority
to perform background checks, including fingerprinting.

NBAA believes that the TSA will look at NBAA’s TSA Access Certificate (TSAAC) as a possible security guideline for reopening DCA to qualified corporate operators. The same bill also has a provision that would require the DHS to issue regulations allowing nonscheduled air carriers to operate at DCA under a security program approved by the department. Both actions are to commence within 30 days of passage.

NBAA already has Part 91 corporate operators based at Teterboro Airport, N.J. who have received TSAACs, which allow them to conduct international flights without traditional TSA international waivers and, ultimately, have access to selected TFR airspace. The TSA has approved expanding the proof-of-concept program to Part 91 operators based at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, N.Y., and Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU), N.J. As of early last month, 79 people from 31 Part 91 flight departments had participated in several TSAAC training sessions at the two airports.

Work is continuing to develop security recommendations for general aviation airports of all sizes, although the timetable has slipped. A GA airports security working group was created on April 30 by the TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Council (ASAC) to categorize public- and private-use GA airports and come up with security guidelines.

The original goal of the working group was to have recommendations to forward to the ASAC by September 1. The plan was that the ASAC would review it and then pass it on to TSA for further action by October 1. But that schedule has been delayed because the working group learned that the next ASAC meeting is October 1 and not September 1. So the working group is taking advantage of the additional time to continue its efforts.

The group is being co-chaired by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO). Participants in the GA working group include NBAA, the National Air Transportation Association, the Helicopter Association International, AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association and the American Association of Airport Executives.

“We are going to continue to press on and come up with something reasonable,” said NASAO president Henry Ogrodzinski. The group has decided to withhold commenting on its deliberations until the work is completed. “We want to pull together a product that all of the associations can be proud of,” he added. “It’s just taking longer than anticipated. I am expecting to get this job done by mid-September at the latest, if not sooner.”

Ogrodzinski said another meeting of the working group was scheduled for August 26, and a backup session for September 9, if needed, has been penciled in. Another member of the group told AIN, “We are working very hard to get a 100-percent stamp of approval from every organization.”

The ASAC was originally established by the FAA in 1989 following the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. It was transferred by act of Congress to the TSA, along with other civil aviation security authority.

The TSA said it wants a unified set of recommendations across the spectrum of GA airports to prevent a “patchwork” of state and local security regulations, which the agency warns could pose unnecessary burdens on some airport owners and operators while leaving security gaps at others. The GA airports security initiative was in response to state requests for federally endorsed guidelines, and the TSA has claimed that its intent is not to regulate.