A permanent "temporary" flight restriction (TFR) for one of Vice President Dick Cheney's private residences? AOPA says it is bad public policy, it further crowds and complicates already complex airspace, and it is inconsistent with the FAA's regulation on TFRs. The association has requested that the FAA replace it with a notam similar to those issued for nuclear power plants, dams, and bridges.
"The recent unilateral action to implement this TFR, which abuts the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), adds to the aviation community's growing exasperation with the area's complex airspace and adversely affects a prominent VFR route," AOPA President Phil Boyer told the FAA in a letter. "A notam asking pilots to avoid the area should provide adequate security for the vice president and protect pilots from the severe penalties associated with violating a TFR."
Last week, the FAA issued a 1-nautical-mile-radius TFR that extends to 1,500 feet agl and that, for now, is in effect indefinitely over Cheney's new home in St. Michaels, Maryland.
The fact that the St. Michaels TFR is in effect even when the vice president is not present is inconsistent with the time-limited TFRs issued for Cheney when he visits his other residence in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
FAR 91.141, which applies to flight restrictions for VIPs, doesn't even call for such drastic measures. Its application historically has been to limit the effective times of the restrictions to the timeframes when the president or vice president is at the location covered by the TFR.
Many pilots in the Washington, D.C., area have voiced their concerns to AOPA about the impact this unprecedented permanent restriction could have on their flying. Pilots often use a VFR route through that area to commute to and from the nation's capital and to conduct flight training outside another unprecedented restriction - the ADIZ - that the FAA is trying to make permanent.
"This is underscored by the nearly 20,000 pilots who have responded thus far to the FAA's proposed rulemaking to make the ADIZ permanent," Boyer said. (To file comments, see the AOPA Member Action Center: Operation ADIZ.)
December 1, 2005