Airspace incursion proves that TFRs are not the answer for UAV ops

October 5, 2007

Airspace incursion proves that TFRs are not the answer for UAV ops

Global Hawk

Last week, a manned aircraft flew through a temporary flight restriction (TFR) that was in place for a Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying above Beale Air Force Base in Northern California. At least one report indicates that the incident could have been a near miss.

AOPA says that example proves its argument that airspace restrictions around UAV operations do not enhance safety. The association has been adamant that the FAA require a chase plane with UAV operations in lieu of TFRs.

Since November 2006, the FAA has been issuing a 10-nautical-mile-radius TFR that extends from the top of Beale's Class C airspace to 18,000 feet msl for every UAV flight.

AOPA has long argued that UAVs must fit seamlessly into the National Airspace System.

  • Certified to the same level of safety as manned aircraft
  • Pose no threat to manned aircraft
  • Require no airspace restrictions

AOPA members have also voiced their opinion about UAVs: 95 percent believe that UAV operations should follow the same operating rules as manned aircraft.

  • See and avoid manned aircraft
  • Immediately respond to ATC instructions

"Until the FAA develops standards that allow UAVs to operate safely with manned aircraft, the agency must require chase planes," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "TFRs are ineffective and negatively impact the pilots flying near them."

May 10, 2007