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Prepare for extended TFRsPrepare for extended TFRs

Since a temporary flight restriction (TFR) is by definition temporary in nature, it is extremely important that your CFIs are stressing to students to check the FDC notams before every flight, especially during the onslaught of the presidential election campaign.

Most flight schools have probably experienced a non-VIP TFR at one time or another, which are usually small and may allow for some general aviation aircraft operations. Presidential TFRs are an entirely different animal. The outer ring usually extends out to 30 nautical miles, allowing only operations of IFR traffic in contact with ATC. But the inner ring usually results in a total shutdown for GA. There may be restricted access for visitors, students, and employees. For those who must deal with VIP TFRs on a regular basis, the loss of income can be crippling to their bottom line since most students won’t be on an IFR flight plan and activities such as flight training and practice approaches are not permitted within this area.

Because these TFRs aren’t usually issued until at least 48 hours in advance of the president’s arrival and in force until just after his departure, your operation could find itself taken by surprise and be unexpectedly down for quite some time.

With the presidential campaign under way, chances are you will, at some point, be affected by these TFRs. Even if you know President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit your area and you guesstimate you will be outside of the concentric circles, think again. Though the TFR is usually comprised of the 30-nm/10-nm ring, the dimensions and the shape of the rings are often altered to suit the president’s specific needs. To make matters worse, rolling TFRs (a line of overlapping restrictions) will likely be issued with increasing frequency when he conducts a bus tour. These rolling TFRs can be complex and sometimes convoluted to navigate.

You may want to start making a game plan for your operation should you happen to get caught up in the crosshairs of one of these TFRs. First and foremost should be your consideration of how to guide your students and staff. Plan ahead in order to mitigate the loss of business.

  • Even if you are within 10 nm of the outside ring, consider prohibiting student solo flights until the threat has completely passed to keep them out of harm’s way.
  • Search out and arrange where your CFIs can still meet with students, such as a room at your local library, VFW hall, public works office, FSDO, or other location so that they can at least continue ground instruction.
  • Consult with a tax expert to see if any federal assistance is available for loss of business due to the mandatory federal regulation of the TFR, and how to calculate and deduct the losses from your taxes.
  • Conduct CFI and student training on aircraft intercept procedures.

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