When the expected temporary flight restriction (TFR) goes into effect in Hawaii to accommodate President Barack Obama’s holiday travel, security will be tight but general aviation will have more freedom to operate than it did last year.
As a result of long-term planning and cooperation between AOPA, Airport Support Network volunteer Joe Kiefer, the General Aviation Council of Hawaii (GACH), and several government agencies, most GA businesses will be able to continue operating during the approximately two-week presidential visit.
The FAA, Transportation Security Administration, and Secret Service accepted all but one of the suggestions that GACH offered and AOPA hand-delivered to officials during discussions held months in advance of the anticipated TFR in the effort to preserve GA access.
“No pilot likes a TFR. However, we are very encouraged by the fact that those responsible for creating the TFRs are beginning to take into account the devastating impact that TFRs have on GA and are trying to mitigate the damage,” said Brittney Miculka, AOPA manager of security and borders, of the discussions. “General aviation access is allowed, businesses can continue to operate, and those parties that the Secret Service protects are not compromised. It proved the value of stakeholder contributions during the planning process of a TFR.”
The basic layout of the expected TFR is summarized in this FAA Flight Advisory issued Dec. 13. The advisory also lists general restrictions on operations within the inner and outer rings of the TFR airspace.
As was the case last year, a cutout of the restricted airspace has been created over Dillingham Airfield in Mokuleia, Hawaii, to allow for flight training, parachute jumping, and glider operations.
Screening opportunities for sightseeing operations have been expanded, allowing several more air tour operators to fly during the TFR than last year, Kiefer said.
Traffic pattern work and instrument approaches will be allowed at John Rodgers Field, Kalaeloa, subject to the screening of the flight instructors and students. Last year, those operations were prohibited.
Pilots are advised to check notices to airmen (notams) when the TFR is issued and frequently while it is in effect for any changes in procedures.
Throughout 2010 AOPA has worked diligently to preserve general aviation access to airspace affected by TFRs, and has regularly called on officials to solicit user input during the TFR planning process. Local news organizations in Hawaii have taken notice, and have reported on the cooperative efforts between officials and GA.
“The government has done its part to allow GA to continue to operate; it is now up to every pilot flying in the area to ensure compliance with the published procedures. If pilots comply with all requirements, general aviation will continue to benefit from the cooperation that has been achieved to date. If they don’t we will most likely see the return of the draconian measures that have been put into place in the past,” Miculka said.
“We worked very hard with the FAA to make sure concerns over the TFR were considered. AOPA also worked to make sure that pilots in Hawaii were getting information from government officials, so that they could prepare for the TFR and special procedures,” she said.
ASN volunteer Kiefer called the TFR agreement “a good compromise” that keeps GA businesses running and lets security agencies “know who’s up in the air.”
“You take two weeks of income out of one of these small businesses and it really hurts,” he said.
AOPA’s efforts were a “huge help” to Hawaii GA pilots, Kiefer said, and he also had words of gratitude for the cooperation of FAA, TSA and Secret Service officials.
“It would have been very easy for them to say, ‘Sorry.’ But they didn’t. They came to the table,” Kiefer said.