The Honorable Jane Garvey, Administrator
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
I am writing to express strong disappointment about your decision to extend the temporary flight restriction (TFR) "indefinitely" over the city of Chicago. By retaining the TFR, the FAA is tacitly endorsing the use of wholesale airspace restrictions to address a perception that general aviation poses a threat to the citizens of Chicago or other large metropolitan areas. This sets a troubling and unacceptable precedent, which essentially abdicates airspace control to local authorities.
President Bush has been adamant in his message, stating the United States will not allow the terrorist attacks of September 11th to undermine our way of life. He has stated emphatically the country is in recovery and life and commerce are back to normal.
Why in the world, with such strongly worded White House policy, are we still dealing with this unnecessary airspace restriction in Chicago? The FAA and security officials have acknowledged there is no credible threat to any Chicago buildings or landmarks. No credible threat from general aviation exists, and the Chicago restrictions should be immediately canceled.
In fact, the continuation of the Chicago TFR is in direct contrast to the easing of other post-9/11 security restrictions around the city. For example, the removal of concrete barriers in the city's federal plaza and public gatherings are again being permitted in the mall area.
Also, as you are aware, AOPA is now doing everything it can to ensure passage of the Lipinski and Durbin bills, which set the future for Chicago's airport system. Mayor Daley is now our ally in this effort, which ensures the continued operation of Chicago's Meigs Field. With this continuing TFR, access to Meigs Field airport is less than optimal. On a recent flight, I even had to confirm with your own Chicago approach controllers that I was remaining clear of the "mayor's airspace restriction." Will we end up saving Meigs but losing airspace access?
AOPA and other industry groups have instituted a pilot awareness campaign to heighten general aviation sensitivity to the non-flying public, fulfilling our commitment to educate the flying public on the city's concerns. We now call on the FAA to live up to its commitment and cancel the Chicago TFR!
April 2, 2002