An industry-led committee composed of pilots, aviation and automation experts, officials who submit notams, and flight planning vendors has drafted 54 recommendations to the FAA to improve the dissemination and graphical display of temporary flight restrictions to make it easier for pilots to access and understand the information.
The RTCA Tactical Operations Committee has been working on identifying and drafting the recommended improvements for six months. In December 2015, AOPA asked the FAA to address problems with the depiction of TFRs, and the agency responded in April by tasking the committee to look into the problems and provide recommendations. AOPA and Jeppesen have co-chaired the effort.
“It is very important that the TFR issues the committee identified be corrected quickly by the FAA,” said AOPA Director of Airspace and Air Traffic Rune Duke, who participated in the committee. “TFRs have a significant impact on operations, and not providing clear and accurate information sets pilots up for violations. We will stay engaged on these issues and the implementation of the solutions.”
One of the major recommendations is that all TFRs with shapes be graphically depicted on the Notam Search website. The committee noted numerous issues with the FAA’s graphical TFR website, which has not been updated in over 10 years, including the website's inability to provide all graphics, and recommended it be discontinued. The FAA has already started working to implement the improvements to the Notam Search website, and graphics are expected to be available on the site in early 2017. AOPA encourages all pilots to start using the Notam Search website to get more reliable, easy-to-understand graphical depictions of TFRs.
The FAA plans to keep its current disclaimer that appears each time a pilot accesses the Notam Search site after graphical TFR information is added. This disclaimer notes pilots can rely on the information for operational use but must seek other information, such as weather conditions, from other sources in order to meet all preflight requirements.
“The committee noted a disadvantage of the FAA’s graphical TFR website was its disclaimer informing pilots that the graphics could not be used for flight planning,” Duke said. “We applaud the FAA for moving quickly to make accurate TFR graphics available on Notam Search and to not include burdensome disclaimers. Pilots must be able to trust this information in order to flight plan effectively.”