In a letter received May 17, Adm. William Gortney, the outgoing NORAD commander, thanked AOPA President Mark Baker for the association’s successful efforts to reduce the number of violations of special-use airspace and the resulting NORAD intercepts, saying, “together we have made amazing progress.”
AOPA has long taken an active role in trying to reduce the number of TFR violations by working closely with the FAA and military to raise public awareness of TFRs, alerting AOPA members to TFRs in their areas, and advocating for cutouts for small airports to allow operations to continue safely near TFRs for VIPs.
AOPA is co-chairing an RTCA industry-government committee that will issue comprehensive recommendations for improving TFRs, including addressing errors in graphical depictions and improving user friendliness. The panel, which includes FAA subject matter experts, flight app providers, TFR originators, and human factors experts, will also make recommendations for how TFRs can be better integrated with cockpit technology. The committee is scheduled to submit its recommendations to the FAA in the first quarter of 2017.
TFRs are issued through the notam system, and pilots may be required to sift through hundreds of notams for any planned flight. AOPA is working with the FAA to ensure that important notams, like TFRs, are highlighted so users have less chance of missing one.
To further improve notams, the FAA will be transitioning to a modernized system later this year. The new Federal Notam System will replace technology that has been in place for more than 30 years. The replacement system, which is scheduled to go live in September, will allow greater automation and make it possible to issue more notams digitally so they can be geo-referenced and graphically depicted on charts.
The FAA’s Notam Search website is replacing PilotWeb, which will sunset after the transition of the notam system this September. Notam Search offers several improvements like filtering and searching to help pilots see the notams important to their route of flight. Further improvements are being planned for this web tool to help pilots sift through the many notams that may be applicable to their flight.
“We fully support the move toward the modernized notam system,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic. “Not only will it make it easier for users to identify important notams, it will also make it easier for them to see airspace restrictions and stay out of trouble—and that’s better for everyone.”