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TFR to ring in the New Year in FloridaTFR to ring in the New Year in Florida

Flight restrictions in effect Dec. 21 to Jan. 1Flight restrictions in effect Dec. 21 to Jan. 1

Editor's note: This story was updated Dec. 20 with additional TFR information from the FAA.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) will be in effect from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1 in the vicinity of West Palm Beach, Florida, where President Donald Trump travels to spend weekends and vacations at his Mar-a-Lago property during fall and winter.

U.S. President Donald Trump's personal helicopter is seen at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, April 9, 2017. Photo by Carlos Barria, Reuters.

A TFR advisory cautions pilots that multiple notices to airmen will be issued during the active period, and to check frequently for changes. The FAA plans to issue the notams 24 hours in advance of their effective times, and issued the first TFR notam Dec. 20.

“The FAA, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies will be closely monitoring and patrolling this airspace looking for violators,” said the FAA Safety Team in an email alerting pilots to the impending TFR.

Robert Berlucchi, the FAA’s air traffic manager at Palm Beach International Airport, urged recipients of the email message to share it widely with other pilots. He praised pilots for their “work, coordination, and efforts” that resulted in a violation-free period while the TFR was in effect during Trump’s November visit to the area.

“Let’s keep that going for this 11 day trip!” he wrote.

Economic impact still severe

AOPA Director of Aviation Security Nobuyo Sakata also credited general aviation’s efforts to stay informed about the status and configurations of active TFRs for the positive outcome. She added that pilot education is a point of emphasis of AOPA’s continuing efforts to advocate with security officials for TFRs that allow more general aviation activity, perhaps through a program authorizing the vetting and security screening of some flights.

The other point of emphasis for AOPA’s TFR advocacy in 2017 has been finding a solution to the economic impact TFRs continue to take on small aviation businesses that have been prohibited from operating when restrictions are in effect.

To date, for example, the multiple TFRs that have been imposed in the West Palm Beach area since December 2016 have forced complete shutdowns of Palm Beach County Park Airport (Lantana Airport), the busy general aviation field within the 10-nautical-mile-radius inner core of standard VIP TFRs, during active periods.

As AOPA reported in November, when Trump’s schedule called for a resumption of his seasonal visits to Mar-a-Lago around the Thanksgiving holiday period, the shutdowns—mostly of only a weekend’s duration, but occasionally longer—have meant thousands of dollars in lost revenue for Stellar Aviation, the Lantana Airport fixed-base operation, and flight training businesses.

“We’ve never dealt with a week, or two weeks. Those could be several hundred thousand dollars,” Jonathan Miller, Stellar Aviation’s president, told AOPA at the time.

Long term, Sakata said, AOPA continues to seek common ground with security officials on ways to ease the economic impact and access restrictions caused by the VIP TFRs in Florida and in the vicinity of another Trump property in Bedminster, New Jersey.

AOPA will continue working to help pilots reduce TFR incursions, building on the success of the recent Florida TFR, and will keep the economic impact of airspace restrictions on GA in the forefront of advocacy efforts in the new year, she said.

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 a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Security, Temporary Flight Restriction

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