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AOPA appeals to FAA on nuclear TFR violationsAOPA appeals to FAA on nuclear TFR violations

Although the nuclear TFR notam has expired, general aviation pilots faced with enforcement action by the FAA have contacted AOPA. In a letter delivered to the FAA this afternoon, AOPA has asked Ava Mims, director of Flight Standards, to drop enforcement actions against pilots for violations of the nuclear TFR notam, unless it is determined that the operator engaged in a blatant or intentional violation.

From the start, the nuclear TFR notam was seriously flawed and did not provide general aviation pilots with the information necessary for identifying and avoiding the prohibited airspace. It is so confusing that the FAA has granted FSS specialists, the official source to brief pilots, immunity for all operational errors or operational deviations related to failure to provide information to pilots concerning the status of these TFRs in the enroute phase of the pilot's flight. AOPA believes it is only fair that immunity be extended to pilots.

The letter from AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula outlined the notam shortcomings:

  • The nuclear sites were not plotted on any official FAA document.
  • The TFR airspace was not defined by any geographical coordinates or sufficient location information.
  • Of the scant location information that was provided, much of it was incorrect—some locations were off by as much as 40 nautical miles or located in the wrong state.
  • Some nuclear sites were inadvertently left off the original notam.
  • The notam did not identify impacted airports.
  • Flight service and air traffic control personnel were not given enough location information to adequately instruct pilots.
  • Flight service and air traffic control facilities issued conflicting information to pilots concerning the restrictions.

The letter concluded, "Because of the inaccurate, confusing, and incomplete information contained within the notam, AOPA respectfully requests that Flight Standards drop all enforcement actions associated with the nuclear TFR."

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