Eliminating over a year's uncertainty for general aviation pilots, the FAA has issued a new notam, significantly revising the infamous "Catch-22" notam 1/3353 governing flight restrictions near large open-air events. AOPA objected to the previous notam because it did not define covered events, hours of the event, or properly address operations at airports within the TFR airspace.
The new notam adopts almost every AOPA recommendation, including limiting the airspace restrictions to Major League Baseball, NFL, NCAA Division IA stadiums, and major speedways (NASCAR) seating more than 30,000 people. It limits the effective time of the restrictions from one hour before the scheduled start time of the event to one hour after and provides for arrivals and departures at airports within TFR airspace. The TFR dimensions remain unchanged and prohibit operations within 3 nautical miles and 3,000 feet.
"TSA led the development of this notam to address specific issues related to security," said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula. "With the FAA's release of this notam, there is no reason for Congress to act on legislation currently being considered in the Senate and the House on sporting event overflights."
Under this new notam, aerial advertisers and others needing access to the airspace during the event will be able to obtain a waiver after passing an expedited security clearance. They will be subject to operating restrictions and random law enforcement inspections. Information regarding authorized waiver holders will be posted on a secure Web site for use by law enforcement, so they conduct random verification of aircraft operator/crewmember identification.
Operators can apply for a waiver online. Pilots will be able obtain a provisional waiver through an expedited criminal background check.