AOPA has learned that the FAA is drafting a notam that will permit the resumption of some VFR operations. AOPA President Phil Boyer has talked at length with FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and the head of the FAA's Air Traffic Services. They had just come from a meeting with Department of Defense and national security officials.
"We made some progress toward more VFR flight," Garvey told Boyer. But she said that VFR privileges would not be restored all at once. "As Secretary of Transportation Mineta has already said, there will be a series of phase-ins, with operations restored incrementally."
Garvey said that the FAA will continue daily meetings with national security officials and that the agency will continue work to free up more types of VFR operations.
"If you don't like what you hear today, just stay tuned," said Boyer. "More privileges will be restored as time goes on. And AOPA will be there to make sure that the needs of all pilots are addressed, if not today, then tomorrow."
The notam will not be issued sooner than late today in order to give the FAA time to brief all flight service stations on exactly what flight operations will be permitted. AOPA had criticized the FAA for not keeping FSS personnel completely informed. The FAA is now sending twice-daily faxes to all FSSs so the briefers can provide accurate information, not rumors, to pilots.
Pilots are urged not to contact the FAA until after the notam is released.
AOPA has installed a senior staff member at FAA headquarters to ensure that FAA understands the operational needs of general aviation pilots and that the notams are clear and consider all possible circumstances.
"We also now have a better idea of what national security officials are trying to protect," said Boyer. "All of us can easily understand that they want to protect the major U.S. urban areas, which contain our nation's financial and government centers. They are also concerned about hub airports and commercial airline passengers.
"They also have a continuing concern about civilian flight training, which, frankly, we have a little more difficulty understanding," said Boyer.
AOPA will update this Web site with the specifics of the VFR notam as soon as it is released.