AOPA will be closed on February 18 in observance of Presidents Day. We will reopen at 8:30 a.m. EST on February 19.
Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Sponsored by Aircraft Spruce

Training Tip: 'A high degree of public interest'Training Tip: 'A high degree of public interest'

Temporary flight restrictions activated when the president or other public figures travel, or when major events like the Super Bowl take place, are the TFRs most familiar to pilots checking notices to airmen for airspace restrictions along a proposed route.

Example of TFR established near Portland, Oregon around an area of wildfire hazards. Image courtesy of SkyVector.

There’s another type of TFR that can go live on short notice—and while an unaware pilot wouldn’t face the unnerving possibility of interception by a fighter jet for an incursion, other risks, such as collision, or disrupting disaster relief or firefighting operations, might threaten the safety of aircraft occupants and persons on the ground.

Those are the TFRs established in the vicinity of hazard/disaster areas, and they are addressed by a regulation intended to serve three main purposes:

"(1)Protect persons and property on the surface or in the air from a hazard associated with an incident on the surface;

(2)provide a safe environment for the operation of disaster relief aircraft; or

(3) prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing and other aircraft above an incident or event which may generate a high degree of public interest."

A well-intentioned but ill-informed pilot flying over an incident on the surface, or an area stricken by a natural disaster, to take pictures or simply check out the situation out of curiosity can exert an enormously disruptive influence on activities below, even scuttling crucial flight operations.

That pilot may be exposing himself or herself to a risk that also concerns airborne emergency responders and aerial firefighting flights: interference from drones being operated without authorization in the affected airspace.

TFRs of all sorts are known for their propensity to appear on short notice, demanding pilots to carefully monitor notams. Hazard-related TFRs are especially prone to sudden activation and periodic changes to their configuration and active periods, and fire-related TFRs are a notable example, as a Bureau of Land Management official who coordinates airspace issues with the FAA recently outlined for AOPA.

Checking for TFR notams is always a good idea when planning a flight. Add to your TFR understanding—and build up your ability to avoid an airspace incursion—by reading up on the regulation that explains the purpose, prohibitions, and exceptions to flight restrictions imposed when there’s a crisis on the ground.

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: Temporary Flight Restriction, Notams, Flight Training
aircraft spruce logo

Aircraft Spruce

Sponsor of Flight Training Tips
Aircraft Spruce provides virtually everything a pilot or aircraft owner might need. As a Strategic Partner since 2012, the company sponsors programs that bring hands-on knowledge and DIY spirit to AOPA members.