|U.S. Department of Transportation |
Federal Aviation Administration
|Office of the Administrator||800 Independence Ave. SW |
Washington, DC 20591
Mr. Phil Boyer
President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
421 Aviation Way
Frederick, MD 21701-4798
Dear Mr. Boyer:
Thank you for your letter citing the concerns of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) regarding the issue of temporary flight restriction (TFR) violations by general aviation aircraft in the Washington, D.C., area, and the apparent lack of TFR information being disseminated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to pilots. Your letter raised three major issues: (1) graphical depiction of the Washington, D.C., area TFRs; (2) proper maps and tools needed for the pilot to avoid TFR areas, and (3) unsatisfactory weather briefings, specifically, provision of TFR information provided by flight service station (FSS) air traffic control specialists (ATCS). A TFR Action Plan addressing the three issues has been developed and implemented to address your concerns and is outlined below.
To address the first issue, we have taken the following actions: On July 10, the Camp David Prohibited Area 40 (P-40), the Crawford, Texas, Prohibited Area 49 (P-49), the White House and Vice-Presidential Residence Prohibited Area 56 (P-56), and the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules TFR were depicted on the Air Traffic Airspace Management (ATA) Web site. On September 5, this information will be published in the Class II Notices to Airmen publication (NTAP). In addition, we have disseminated a notice stating requirements for holding FSS ATCSs accountable for providing the above Class II NTAP information while conducting pilot weather briefings even though this information is published. Thirdly, a "hot-link" capability to the ATA Web site was installed on the Direct User Access Terminal system (DUATS) on July 8. Finally, we have undertaken an upgrade of the Jeppesen software for use by the flight service operational support center personnel for the transmission of graphical TFRs to the FSSs. Jeppesen is contracted to provide the update by the end of August. After the software is tested and transmitted to the FSSs, we will make these products available to the public.
The following action items address the second issue. First is the development of visual flight rules (VFR) waypoints around P-40 to be published on VFR sectional charts. Coordination between the FAA and other government agencies is currently ongoing, and we expect to complete the action in August. Secondly, in September, we will publish an advisory message on the VFR sectional, terminal area, and VFR flyway planning charts reference the P-40 and Washington, D.C., special flight rules. In addition, we will publish special VFR terminal area and flyway planning charts that will depict the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area and P-40/Restricted Area 4009 TFR in the August 8-15 timeframe. Finally, the Flight Standards Service has been tasked to develop a TFR presentation as part of the national Air Safety Program, including Operation Rain Check.
To address the final issue, a review was completed of the eight pilot weather briefings AOPA solicited from various FSSs by the Air Traffic Service. Voice recordings were provided to allow a thorough analysis by these organizations. As a result, Air Traffic will pursue this issue as a special emphasis item in future FSS evaluations to ensure that FSS ATCSs provide all TFR information pertinent to a pilot's route of flight while conducting standard weather briefings as mandated. The second item was the issuance of a letter to airmen to be published on every available FAA headquarters, regional office, field facility, and DUATS Web site and the Web sites of other user groups, including AOPA. The wide dissemination of this letter is intended to cause pilots to ask for or search for TFR information pertinent to their route of flight, and it further states what the alternative could be if they fail to obtain the information.
Though we believe that our action plan covers your concerns, the need to ensure that the general aviation community is receiving and continues to receive the most current TFR information available is paramount to the mission of the FAA. Maintaining national security, while preserving the integrity of the National Airspace System, necessitates the timely receipt of critical TFR information to heighten the awareness of general aviation pilots to avoid violating TFRs in the future.
If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.
Monte R. Belger
August 28, 2002