AOPA President Phil Boyer on Wednesday called directly upon the U.S. Navy to lift the four "permanent" TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) in the Puget Sound area. In a letter to the chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, Boyer said, "Our organization appreciates the formidable challenges that faced the defense community directly following the [September 11th] terror attacks. However...the TFRs are no longer warranted."
Boyer noted that in the two years since the attacks, numerous steps have been taken to address general aviation and national security.
"AOPA supports the elimination of these TFRs and recommends replacing them with an advisory similar to that used for nuclear power plants," he wrote. That notice to airmen (notam) specifically advises that '...pilots conducting flight operations within the territorial airspace of the U.S. are advised to avoid the airspace above or in proximity to all nuclear power plants. Pilots should not circle or loiter in the vicinity of such facilities....' This notam protects national assets while still allowing legitimate use of the National Airspace System by pilots."
In February 2002, AOPA asked the FAA to lift the TFRs. In April 2003, the association appealed to the Transportation Security Administration for relief. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives called for a review of the Department of Defense TFRs in its version of the FAA reauthorization bill. And members of the Washington congressional delegation have written directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, calling for a review not only of the Puget Sound TFRs, but of all the remaining DoD "permanent" TFRs.
In his letter, Boyer noted specific operational impacts of the flight restrictions, including:
"Nearly all of these impacts result in extended flight routes around the restricted airspace areas," he wrote. "In some situations there is the potential for safety to be compromised as a result of maneuvering while arriving or departing airports to avoid restricted airspace abutting the airport traffic pattern."
Boyer also told Adm. Clark that AOPA will fight any efforts to turn the TFRs into permanent, charted restricted or prohibited areas.