Mr. Steven J. Brown, ATS-1
Associate Administrator, Air Traffic Services
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, DC 20591
Dear Mr. Brown:
On behalf of the 385,000 members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), I am writing to express my concern over the sudden proliferation of large temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), such as those surrounding President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, and the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The size and duration of these TFRs, coupled with the ambiguous (and sometimes poor) wording used in the notices issued to pilots, creates a situation that is more conducive to violating pilots than promoting national security. AOPA asks that your office, along with those of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Secret Service, commit to work with the civil aviation community to reduce the number of airspace violations through the elimination of large, wholesale restrictions. This collaborative approach would do much to help federal agencies in the performance of their respective duties, while avoiding untenable operational burdens to general aviation pilots. Short of eliminating these TFRs, the FAA must take steps to improve communication of the restrictions to local airspace users.
AOPA was recently asked by the FAA for some possible reasons for the increased numbers of violations to the Crawford, Texas, TFR. The following highlights our response and will hopefully help you to better understand the conditions under which general aviation pilots must now operate:
The establishment and enforcement of such large restrictions places a tremendous demand on the resources of the United States, and to what end? Violations continue, civil pilots are losing their hard-earned certificates, FAA personnel conduct more investigations and process more paperwork, and military airframes (and pilots) continue to accumulate flight hours at great expense to the American taxpayers. With a reduction in the terrorist threat level from orange to yellow, AOPA asks stakeholders within the federal government to adopt a more reasonable approach to this problem, one that mitigates the impact on airspace users and airports by soliciting active input of the civil aviation community. AOPA is concerned that absent such an approach, violations may continue, as will the drain on national resources.
AOPA recommends a two-pronged approach to reducing the TFR incursions by general aviation pilots. First, the FAA must work with security officials to reduce the size and scope of presidential and other security TFRs. Second, the FAA must take the following steps to improve communication of the TFRs to local pilots, especially in the areas of Kennebunkport, Maine; Crawford, Texas; and Washington, D.C.:
As in the past, AOPA stands ready to assist the government in its efforts to enhance national security, while preserving the rights that we as citizens have come to value so dearly. We look forward to meeting with you this Thursday as we take this first step toward addressing our mutual concerns.
Andrew V. Cebula
Senior Vice President
Government and Technical Affairs
October 8, 2002