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Washington, D.C., incident illustrates weakness of notam systemWashington, D.C., incident illustrates weakness of notam system

<BR><SPAN class=twodeck>FAA should make graphical notams available to pilots now</SPAN><BR><SPAN class=twodeck>FAA should make graphical notams available to pilots now</SPAN>

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In the wake of the inadvertent flight of a Cessna 182 through the Washington, D.C., "no fly" area, AOPA is calling on the FAA to make graphical depictions of restricted areas available to pilots.

"This pilot made a mistake he shouldn't have," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "On the other hand, the government can and should make it easier for pilots to comply with the regulations."

"In the case of temporary flight restriction areas, a picture is worth at least 200 FAA notam words."

The FAA has been working with Jeppesen since February to develop a system to create graphical notams—pictures of restricted areas drawn on charts—but the agency only intends to make the graphics available to flight service station briefers, and does not plan to distribute them to pilots. And there isn't a product yet.

But back in November, AOPA—with the help of Jeppesen—was able to create some 86 graphical TFRs in less than 24 hours and post them on its Web site to alert pilots to restricted areas over nuclear power plants.

"There's no good reason why the FAA is taking so long," said Boyer, "and even less reason to keep the graphics away from pilots."

AOPA pioneered graphic notams on its Web site shortly after the September 11 attacks. The site includes the list of notams establishing the national security TFRs, enhanced to allow pilots to easily locate restrictions in their state using topical links at the top of the page. In addition, many of the TFRs are depicted graphically along with a "plain language" interpretation.

"While we're pleased to provide this service to pilots, it really isn't our job," said Boyer. "The FAA is the only official source of this security information, and the agency should make it available in an easy to understand form."

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