The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the FAA have accepted an AOPA-proposed compromise and softened the temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) around New York City for the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Instead of the three-day total ban on aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds operating within 30 nm of Ground Zero, the restrictions, issued by notam Thursday evening, will allow all GA aircraft to operate IFR during much of the September 11-13 period. At the Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., crash sites, the restrictions will only last for the few hours on September 11 when commemoration ceremonies are taking place.
"The compromise we proposed, and which is incorporated in the notam, offers a fairer, more balanced approach to aviation and security concerns," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But even so, the government is still penalizing general aviation for an attack committed with large air carrier aircraft."
There are two periods of time on September 11 when no general aviation operations will be permitted in the restricted area around Ground Zero. At other times, GA pilots will be able to conduct IFR operations, provided they file a flight plan with a flight service station (no DUATS or airfiles) at least six hours in advance (the Islip FSS is adding additional staff during the three-day period to handle the anticipated extra volume of calls), maintain radio contact with air traffic control, and transmit assigned discrete transponder codes. No flight training and no VFR flights will be allowed.
In addition to the three-day restriction around Ground Zero, the notam establishes TFRs around the Somerset, Pennsylvania, and Pentagon crash sites during the times of scheduled remembrance ceremonies on September 11 itself.
At Somerset, Pennsylvania, the TFR prohibits VFR general aviation operations within 30 nm of the crash site. Aircraft on an IFR flight plan will be permitted to operate.
In Washington, D.C., there will be a 30-nm restricted area, with IFR flights in the outer ring of the restricted area (15 sm to 34.5 sm, or 30 nm) permitted while the restricted area is active. All general aviation flights will be prohibited within 15 sm of the Washington Monument, as they are currently under SFAR 94.
AOPA staff were in daily contact with TSA representatives as the security measures were being drafted and provided crucial, quantifiable information about the impact the TFRs would have, including the number of airports, aircraft, and GA operations that would be affected by the various proposals.
"All pilots recognize the need for national security," said Boyer. "All we ask is that restrictions be reasonable and equitable."