‘Tis the final run for the political silly season, and what’s that got to do with aviation? Plenty.
The omnipresent VIP Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) abounds. The average for this campaign season has been 15 to 20 per week. Let’s take one thing off the table—the need for VIP TFRs. Unfortunately, asymmetrical warfare is prevalent. GA remains a perceived threat, although the probability is highly unlikely. This discussion is best had over adult beverages, but for the foreseeable future, we’re probably stuck with it.
However, in this day of instant notification via multiple means, why the FAA’s disclaimer on the TFR website, to wit: Depicted TFR data may not be a complete listing. Pilots should not use the information on this website for flight planning purposes. For the latest information, call your local Flight Service Station at 1-800-WX-BRIEF?
There are multiple government agencies involved, including the FAA, TSA, the Secret Service, and DoD, which compounds coordination. Is it too much to ask that key dissemination vehicles of critical information, and that includes websites and uplinked data, be timely and accurate? DUAT, DUATS, and most of the commercial sites should have current data that show that the pilot has made a good faith effort to stay informed. Naturally, a tail number log-in is needed for verification, but that’s a small concession.
Way too many needless intercepts and the associated hassles have been made because of the need to contact FSS. They are glad for the business, but that’s not the point. This is almost like posting a pseudo speed limit sign on the highway and saying that it may be correct, but you have to pull over and call the Speed Limit Control Desk (SLCD) to verify.
An additional point is that many businesses lose lots of revenue since the following operations are excluded in parts of the TFR: flight training, practice instrument approaches, aerobatic flight, glider operations, seaplane operations, parachute operations, ultralight, hang gliding, balloon operations, agriculture/crop dusting, animal population control flight operations, banner towing operations, sightseeing operations, maintenance test flights, radio controlled model aircraft operations, model rocketry, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and utility and pipeline survey operations.
Should the government have some formula for compensating them for lost revenue? In the interim, you might consider AOPA’s Pilot Protection Plan—just in case.
Lastly, a big thank you to Robert Goyer of Flying Magazine who said, “We’re all in this together. Let’s do our best to join our voices so that the non-flying world hears one voice, big, loud, and clear.” One way you can add your voice is by donating to the AOPA Foundation as we fight to preserve our freedom to fly. Donate today at www.aopafoundation.org.