Apr. 13, 2004 - AOPA has told the FAA that there are alternatives for protecting sensitive military locations besides permanent restricted areas and said the Department of Defense (DoD) should explore those before asking for permanent restrictions.
The Pentagon has made a formal request to turn one of the longstanding temporary security flight restrictions (TFRs), established over Kings Bay, Georgia, right after the September 11 terrorist attacks, into a prohibited area. AOPA says absent a specific and credible threat, the TFR should be removed, not strengthened, and replaced with a notice to airmen similar to those for nuclear power plants.
In its comments on the DoD request, AOPA noted that the Kings Bay TFR has severely impacted nearby St. Marys Airport (4J6), completely shutting it down initially, and, even now, eliminating the only instrument approach into the airport.
AOPA also noted numerous steps taken by both the federal government and the aviation industry to improve aviation security - steps such as AOPA's Airport Watch, screening pilot databases, new hard-to-forge airman certificates, restrictions on foreign pilots and foreign student pilots, and a requirement for pilots to carry government-issued photo ID.
"AOPA appreciates the formidable challenges facing the defense community of protecting this great nation," wrote AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Melissa Bailey in the comments. "While the need for restricted airspace based on specific, credible threats is understandable; we want to ensure due consideration is given to the continued need for each flight restriction and alternatives to permanent airspace restrictions are implemented."