As AOPA first announced yesterday, the FAA today issued a notam restricting airspace for the space shuttle launch scheduled for Thursday, April 4. Because general aviation traffic in central Florida will increase as pilots head toward Sun 'n Fun at Lakeland, "the need for pilots to fly responsibly and familiarize themselves with these restrictions has never been greater," said Melissa Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic services. "Any airspace violations will only reinforce negative stereotypes about GA in the public mind." The notam, which will be effective from 11:08 a.m. local (1608Z) through 8:20 p.m. (0120Z April 5), establishes a 30-nm-radius TFR "no fly" zone around the launch pad from the surface to FL180, with a less restrictive area between 30 and 40 nm ( see graphic).
No Part 91 general aviation and no VFR operations will be permitted within the 30-nm ring, while flights in the 30-40 nm area will require communications with ATC and an assigned transponder code. This restriction will impact operations at 10 public-use airports, including New Smyrna Beach (EVB), Massey (X50), Sanford (SFB), Orlando Executive (ORL), Daytona Beach International (DAB), Merritt Island (COI), Space Coast Regional (TIX), Dunn (X21), Orlando International (MCO), and Melbourne International (MLB).
Pilots are also cautioned that a delay in the launch will likely mean an extension in the effective times for these restrictions. Pilots are encouraged to contact St. Petersburg Flight Service prior to flying in central Florida.