The inspector general's office at the U.S. Department of Transportation has told the FAA that the agency's efforts to give pilots graphical depictions of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) has made progress but have been stalled by technical glitches and staffing shortfalls. The IG memorandum to the FAA is the result of an AOPA request to look into the system's delays.
"The frequent presidential-movement TFRs that now precede President Bush wherever he goes only underscore the need for a workable, reliable system that clearly shows restricted areas," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
The IG memorandum notes that the FAA got the test program going on time but "recognized that the test would not be successful within days of its initiation. FAA officials stated that neither the staff allocated, nor the computer system used in the test period, was sufficient to keep data on the Web site current, considering the volume of notices being issued." It also notes that the FAA has made "important progress" toward making a viable Internet-based TFR and notam system available but has not yet fully implemented the fixes.
The inspector general's office relied heavily on input from AOPA as it prepared its report, citing the association several times in the report itself.
The memorandum concluded by notifying the FAA that the IG's office "plan[s] to continue monitoring FAA's progress in developing this program and may initiate an audit in this area in the near future."
"We hope that pressure from above and from the outside will prompt the FAA to give pilots a high-quality online service, and do it soon," said Boyer.