Late Friday evening, federal authorities were still considering whether any changes should be made to the 15-nm temporary flight restriction (TFR) around Washington, D.C., during the Fourth of July holiday, or possibly for a longer period. AOPA supports the actions reported by CNN.com, that the Department of Defense plans to increase combat air patrols over several U.S. cities during the Independence Day holidays. They stated that the Pentagon and the FAA have taken joint steps to reduce the response time of the fighters tasked to protect the nation's capital.
"As I said when interviewed by CNN earlier this week, the combat air patrol is the least objectionable of the measures the government is considering," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It allows general aviation to keep flying and seems to give the general public a much greater feeling of security. Expanding the TFR would be ridiculous. The FAA could greatly aid VFR navigation throughout the entire country by maintaining graphical depictions of the nations' TFRs on the Internet. While AOPA maintains such a service, it is not the official government source."
The CNN.com report quotes unnamed Pentagon sources as saying the Defense Department considered and rejected three other options, including expanding the Washington TFR, to protect the White House. This fits with what AOPA has learned; that as of Friday afternoon, the FAA was not in the process of drafting any notams that would expand the "no-fly" zone centered on the Washington Monument.
"While this is encouraging, frankly, we are frustrated that pilots still don't know what is going to happen, and it is affecting their plans for the long Independence Day weekend," Boyer said. "My hope is the government will decide CAPs are sufficient and let pilots know. Until that time, nothing is assured. Any developments that AOPA learns over the weekend will be communicated immediately to pilots via our Web site."