As FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was speaking to pilots at AOPA Expo 2003 last week, her agency was switching on a new and greatly improved graphical temporary flight restriction (TFR) Web site, making good on her promise at AOPA Expo 2002 to provide "a good picture."
"This Web site exists largely because AOPA spent the past two years pressuring the FAA to give pilots a clear picture of where the restrictions are," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Many of the enhancements to the new site are the direct result of input from AOPA and AOPA members.
"And because the FAA is making the data to draw the graphical TFRs freely available to third parties, AOPA has been able to step it up several notches and offer members our latest free benefit, AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner.
The FAA Web site includes a list of published TFRs, with live links to a page that shows a close-up of the TFR area overlaid on a sectional chart, and the text of the restricted area. It also has a U.S. map showing the active TFRs across the country.
Using the FAA's data, AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner adds considerably more capability. A pilot can tell at a glance where the TFRs are and will be. A pilot can easily zoom in on a portion of the map, and a click on the TFR graphic brings up the text of the notam, including a plain-language version. It also accesses weather information from either DUATS provider and can overlay that information on an en route chart. Then, using click-and-drag technology, users can simply "rubber-band" their routes around restricted areas and weather.