Puget Sound-area TFR reductions
Jan. 9, 2004 - More than half of the 13 "permanent" Defense Department security TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) are smaller effective today because of constant pressure by AOPA on the FAA, the Pentagon, and the White House.
"This is a good first step, but only a first step," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "All four of the Puget Sound TFRs, which have created navigational nightmares for pilots in the area, have been reduced in size, as have three others in Hawaii, Oregon, and Utah. But 6 more are unchanged, and pilots still have to beware of all 13."
AOPA is making a detailed analysis of the changes, and wants to hear from pilots about their experiences. For pilots flying today, AOPA's Real Time Flight Planner already depicts the new, smaller TFRs.
Initial analysis shows some positive impacts, particularly for pilots in the hard-hit Puget Sound area.
The changes reopen Port of Poulsbo Seaplane Base and numerous Victor airways. Also, the TFRs no longer impact arrivals and departures at Snohomish County airport, or VFR arrivals and departures from Bremerton National. VFR arrivals and departures to the North of Apex Private airport are still affected, as are practice ILS approaches to Runway 19 Bremerton.
"AOPA is looking for feedback from local pilots about what these changes solve or don't solve," said Boyer. "We want to hear about it all - what works and what doesn't," said Boyer. The association has established a special email box so pilots can relate their experiences. The address is [email protected].
Over the past six months, AOPA senior staff met with homeland security officials from the Department of Defense and the White House to press for relief from these DoD TFRs. In December, Boyer appealed directly to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, since most of the TFRs are over naval assets.
AOPA also enlisted the aid of four members of Congress from Washington State who added their clout to AOPA's fight to remove or at least mitigate the impact of the TFRs. Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.) sent a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, urging the Department of Defense (DoD) to reevaluate the need for four TFRs in the Puget Sound area. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also sent a joint letter, calling on Rumsfeld to reexamine the issue.
Officially, what has happened is the FAA has reissued the notams establishing the 13 remaining "permanent" security-related TFRs that have been in place since shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Seven of the 13, including the four in the Puget Sound area, are smaller in the new notams. The other three reduced TFRs are in Honolulu, Hawaii; Hermiston, Ore., and Tooele, Utah. The remaining six TFRs, most east of the Mississippi, remain as they were.
"Having the amount of restricted airspace in the National Airspace System reduced is certainly a step in the right direction, and we're pleased that the Pentagon listened to our call to reevaluate their needs," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. "But the fact of the matter is that all 13 are still in place, and nearly half of them are as big as ever. On top of that, the massive Baltimore-Washington ADIZ (air defense identification zone) remains firmly clamped over the nation's capital region. More work still needs to be done.
"And here is a darker side to this good news," said Boyer. "The FAA plans to start charting these TFRs as each area reaches its next chart publication date. AOPA is very concerned that charting a 'temporary' restricted area is just a stone's throw away from making the restriction a "PFR" - permanent flight restriction."