The bill that keeps the government running includes a big win for general aviation by providing $3.5 million in reimbursement funding to three airports affected by presidential temporary flight restrictions.
Eager to avoid another government shutdown, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law a $328 billion spending package on Feb. 15.
The newly passed legislation states: “Up to $3,500,000 shall be for necessary expenses, including an independent verification regime, to provide reimbursement to airport sponsors that do not provide gateway operations and providers of general aviation support services located at those airports closed during a temporary flight restriction (TFR) for any residence of the President that is designated or identified to be secured by the United States Secret Service, and for direct and incremental financial losses incurred while such airports are closed solely due to the actions of the Federal Government.”
TFRs have left airports financially drained as many businesses remain inoperable during the restrictions—from fixed-based operators to skydiving operations, flight schools, maintenance shops, and other aviation activities.
“This is something that needed to be done. It is fair and reasonable, and we applaud lawmakers who supported this funding provision, especially Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Representative Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), and former Representative Leonard Lance (R-N.J.). Our team here at AOPA worked hard on this solution and believe it is a big win for those airports, businesses, and communities,” said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Coon.
AOPA has been the leading advocate in Washington, D.C., to find a solution for presidential TFR impacts on airports. In addition to the efforts to secure the reimbursement funds, AOPA worked with members of Congress in 2018 to require the FAA to develop a report on methods for mitigating the impact of TFRs associated with future presidential travels.
AOPA also submitted input to the FAA for its analysis of the potential for using security procedures similar to those described in the Maryland Three Program in the Washington, D.C., Flight Restricted Zone that would allow egress and ingress at Solberg Airport, Somerset Airport, and Palm Beach County Park Airport during presidential TFRs.