All posts tagged 'TFR'

FAA Takes a More Sensible Approach to First-Time, Inadvertent TFR Violations

The FAA recently amended its enforcement guidelines for dealing with airmen who violate temporary flight restriction ("TFR") airspace. In the past, when the FAA alleged that an airman violated a TFR, and the incident was a first-time, inadvertent violation by the airman, that airman would receive a Notice of Proposed Certificate Action ("Notice") proposing suspension of his or her airman certificate for 30 days for violation of a variety of regulations. This was the FAA's "shoot from the hip", no questions asked approach. And once the Notice was issued, the FAA conceded very little, if anything, from that 30 day suspension.

Now, however, it appears the FAA may have recognized that this approach wasn't necessarily the best way of dealing with these types of violations. In June of this year, the FAA amended Order 2150.3(b), the FAA's compliance and enforcement program, to change its approach to dealing with first-time, inadvertent TFR violators. According to the FAA, it is modifying its policy to provide more flexibility in dealing with TFR violators with the intent of reducing "the number of violations occurring in security airspace by using remedial training in appropriate circumstances to prevent repeated inadvertent violations." I'm not sure why it took the FAA this long to figure out that remedial training might be a better alternative to a suspension, but better late than never, I guess.

Under the amended guidelines, the FAA will apply the following sanction policy to TFR violations:

  1. A single, first-time, inadvertent violation will result in a 30 day suspension EXCEPT in circumstances involving:

    1. Inadvertent, first-time violations resulting from aircraft intruding one mile or less into the security airspace and then turning and exiting directly when there are no resulting complications for air traffic control or other aircraft; or

    2. Inadvertent, first time violations resulting from aircraft briefly (two minutes or less) squawking a 1200 code or failing to squawk an assigned discrete code, in security airspace that requires the aircraft to squawk a discrete code when there are no resulting complications for air traffic control or other aircraft.

    3. In situations 1(a) and (b), the FAA will use remedial training, assuming the airman has no prior history of violations. This means the airman would receive a warning letter, remedial training and the airman would not have a finding of violation placed in his or her airman record. (In my opinion, a more appropriate response to this type of situation rather than preventing an airman from staying current and competent by suspending his or her airman certificate, as was the case in the past.)
  2. A new inadvertent violation and a history of 1 prior inadvertent TFR violation will result in a 45 to 90 day suspension of the airman's certificate.

  3. A new inadvertent violation and a history of 2 prior inadvertent TFR violations will result in a 90 to 150 day suspension of the airman's certificate.

  4. A new inadvertent violation and a history of 3 or more inadvertent TFR violations will result in revocation of the airman's certificate.

  5. If the facts and circumstances surrounding the TFR violation call into question the qualifications of the airman, the FAA may also issue the airman a request for re-examination under 49 U.S.C. § 44709 (a "709 Ride").

  6. Intentional TFR violations or "aggravated" violations (which isn't defined or explained in the amended policy) will result in revocation of the airman's certificate.

Unfortunately, informal counseling, whether oral or written, is not a permitted alternative for the FAA to deal with TFR violations. However, at least now the FAA has the option of remedial training to educate, rather than punish, inadvertent violators. Of course, this amended policy begs the question of what constitutes an "inadvertent" violation. Depending upon the FAA's interpretation of "inadvertent", which in the past hasn't always been the most reasonable, the amended policy may be for naught.

But the amended policy definitely appears to be a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this more enlightened approach, and the voice of reason, will prevail in the future. In any event, airmen should continue to check for NOTAMS, understand the scope of any TFR NOTAMS issued for their route of flight, obtain appropriate flight service briefings and updates, and either avoid TFRs or comply with the applicable requirements for operation within the TFR.

Fly smart and stay safe.

No pilot wants to be escorted by fighter jets: What to know about TFRs


Current TFR for Martha's Vineyard. Courtesy FAA.gov

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the level of security among aviation operations and presidential visits has increased sizably, and understandably so. In turn, the actions from time to time have affected the general aviation community.

Following the terror attacks that day, the FAA grounded all air traffic. Four hijacked commercial aircraft forever changed the way we look at our nation’s security and the way we regulate our sky.

These security measures sometimes present new problems for private pilots. Whereas a TFR was mostly a bowl of unknown alphabet soup to many who stayed close to home and flew VFR a decade ago, it now can lead to serious consequences in any corner of the country if you fly at the wrong place at the wrong time.

No pilot wants to end up in the same situation as Charles “Lee” Daily.

Daily piloted the Cessna 180 floatplane this week that entered a presidential TFR. NORAD scrambled a pair of F-15s from the 142nd Fighter Wing Division of the Oregon Air National Guard, near Portland, to respond the Seattle area, where President Obama was visiting. [more]

The two planes broke the sound barrier, and thousands of residents heard the resulting two loud booms that registered on the Richter scale in western Washington. Phone lines jammed as scores of concerned citizens called 911 dispatchers to report what sounded to them like an explosion.

Those who didn’t hear the sonic boom immediately were later treated to another sort of noise: Widespread coverage of the mishap on local news broadcasts, where the pilot called the incident “a simple, stupid mistake” on his part.

NORAD spokesman Lt. Desmond James said more than 3,000 jets responded to possible air threats in the continental United States since Sept. 11, 2001. Aircraft have flown more than 57,000 sorties supporting domestic defense initiatives during the same timeframe.

The commanding officer of the responding Air National Guard unit told local reporters that the sonic boom resulted as the F-15s flew over a less populated area, after the pilots received clearance for supersonic speed to deliver “the fastest response possible.”

As far as how or why the jets received clearance for a response that included supersonic speeds, James said NORAD cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Some things that personnel consider when making such decisions include the type of aircraft voilating restricted airspace, the elevation, location, speed and direction of travel, and whether or not the pilot is in contact with aviation authorities.

So what is the best way to avoid being this situation? 

As of now, it is ultimately up to an individual pilot not to end up like the Seattle floatplane pilot, stuck unknowingly in the 10-mile no-fly zone for general aviation at the center of a TFR. The AOPA issued a statement this week noting the work amongst the GA community to ensure private pilots avoid such mishaps.

“This incident demonstrates how a careless mistake can have far-reaching consequences,” said Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of operations and international affairs. “When one pilot makes the news for violating a TFR, it can set back progress we’ve made on improving access for the hundreds of thousands who haven’t.”

We, as well, do our best here at GlobalAir.com to provide the best information to aviators in the most accessible way possible.

Avoid TFRs by frequently checking this link to get up-to-date listings from the FAA. Also search for local airport information and check current NOTAMs by clicking on the appropriate tab in our Airport Resource Center.

Those in the Martha’s Vineyard area of the Massachusetts peninsula currently are under a TFR, as the president and his family vacation there this week. Last year marked the first presidential vacation in the area since Sept. 11, 2001. Some aviation businesses, such as that of a scenic biplane tour operator, expected large economic losses during that period last year. Strengthening security by restricting airspace can sometimes leave unhappy people at smaller airports.

Throughout the past three decades, TFRs generally have become more frequent and, certainly in the last decade, more restrictive. Yet it is something with which we all must comply. In order not to see that fighter jet on your wing, we highly recommend looking out for TFRs well before completing your pre-flight checklist.

Presidential TFRs, for the sake of security, ofen do not get posted until 24 to 48 hours before they take affect.  

Let us know what you thought of the situation in Seattle. What do you think can be done better to ensure every private pilot is aware of what is going on around his or her home airport? At what point in the flight-planning process do you check for TFRs? Weigh in by posting a comment below.

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