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Training Tip: Tracking down TFRsTraining Tip: Tracking down TFRs

When a wildfire broke out on a 200-acre island in Lake Michigan after a lightning strike, a U.S. Forest Service helicopter was brought in to aid in the effort to knock down the flames that boaters could see from “a considerable distance across the lake,” according to news reports.

Poverty Island notam imagePart of the process of keeping that aerial operation safe was for the FAA to order a temporary flight restriction—a TFR— from the surface to 3,000 feet mean sea level, effective over a period of 23 days, as the notam about the operation recently appeared on the FAA’s online list of TFRs.

That list, which a pilot can sort by a range of parameters including state, facility, TFR type, notam number, or TFR description, is a must-see item for pilots planning local and cross-country flights, and a must for updates on a TFR’s dimensions or effective times before a flight gets under way.

From firefighting operations and airshows to flight hazards and areas of security concern on the ground, TFRs are put into effect for a wide variety of reasons, and in places as diversely distributed as remote islands and the largest of major metropolitan areas.

Some TFRs can be extremely complex in nature, requiring pilots to give them careful scrutiny, as AOPA advised aviators when reporting on the TFRs to be in effect for the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties in Cleveland and Philadelphia, respectively. AOPA is participating with authorities in an extensive outreach program to inform pilots about the TFRs in an effort to enhance safety and head off incursions of restricted airspace.

One unfamiliar item for many student pilots inspecting TFR listings is the three-letter facility identifier that appears after the date and notam number of the TFRs on the FAA’s list. For example, the notam for the firefighting TFR on Lake Michigan refers to “FDC 6/6857 ZMP MI.”

The identifier ZMP refers to the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), which is the FAA’s coordination facility for the operation, as explained in the notam text.

Do you know the identifier for the ARTCC in the area where you fly? You can locate it in flight information publications, request it from flight service during your next preflight briefing, or find it using this search tool and a search term such as “artcc.”

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Temporary Flight Restriction, FAA publications, Notams
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