On Thursday afternoon, the FAA met with AOPA, other industry representatives, and senior air traffic control officials to discuss the issue of TFR incursions. Government officials are especially concerned about incursions of "presidential TFRs" in Crawford, Texas, and Kennebunkport, Maine.
Prior to the meeting, AOPA sent a letter to the head of FAA Air Traffic Service outlining just some of the deficiencies that may have led to a recent increase in TFR violations. These include a lack of specific air traffic management procedures and the sheer size and magnitude of the restrictions. In the letter, and at yesterday's meeting, AOPA laid out a two-pronged plan for reducing TFR violations.
First, the FAA must work with security officials to reduce the size and scope of presidential TFRs to a more reasonable size, especially in Crawford, Texas, and Kennebunkport, Maine. These locales have recently been subject to new multi-day, 30-nautical-mile-radius restrictions that severely impact dozens of general aviation airports. Second, the FAA must reach out to local pilots through mailings, personal meetings, and visits. In addition, graphical TFRs complete with VFR waypoints and radial/DME fixes are needed to help pilots identify the TFR boundaries.
"The new 'super-sized' TFRs have compounded the problem of violations by general aviation pilots, especially in rural areas like Crawford where private airstrips are the norm for managing cattle ranches and farms," said AOPA Vice President for Air Traffic, Regulatory, and Certification Policy Melissa Bailey. "The FAA's antiquated notam system and notification gaps to pilots are a recipe for disaster when you have a TFR of this size.
"While AOPA will continue to work collaboratively with the FAA in addressing the ongoing problem of TFR incursions, the answer seems pretty clear," continued Bailey. "If you create large enough restrictions, you're going to trap more pilots."