Heightened TFR awareness urged for election season

September 14, 2010

The coming of fall means that the 2010 election campaigns will soon be in full swing. For pilots, political campaigns pose the challenge of keeping track of a profusion of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), some of them popping up in unlikely places, on short notice. Staying up to date on TFRs will be easier to manage for pilots who know what information resources are at their disposal.

Ahead of what is expected to be a very active season for TFRs associated with the travels of campaigning VIPs, FAA and TSA officials met with representatives of AOPA and other general aviation stakeholders to share ideas on how to increase pilot awareness of TFRs. Ideas included a more user-friendly format for notices to airmen (NOTAMs), more direct outreach to the pilot population of airports affected by specific TFRs, and broadcasting TFR information on ATIS and AWOS frequencies.

“AOPA continues to work with government agencies to find a better balance to security and general aviation operations. While we obviously would like to see these TFRs disappear completely, that is not likely any time soon in this security climate,” said Brittney Miculka, AOPA manager of security and borders. “Therefore, we need to work together to prevent innocent pilots from violating these TFRs and ending up with a visit from the Secret Service, or having their pilot certificate suspended.”

AOPA offers a variety of resources for obtaining and updating TFR information including:

Briefings from flight service and DUAT/DUATS also provide guidance on TFRs.

The system works when participants understand the procedures. For example, in late August, when a TFR was in effect at Martha’s Vineyard during President Barack Obama’s vacation visit, hundreds of aircraft were granted waivers into the TFR’s inner ring. Pilots who run afoul of the rules put these cooperative efforts in jeopardy.

“Let’s keep GA pilots out of the news! Please check notams and encourage your local pilot community to also be vigilant for TFRs during their pre-flight planning,” Miculka said.