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Mon, Dec 21, 2009

Aero-News Alert: Hawaiian Pilots 'Held Hostage' By Presidential TFR

Massive TFR "Pretty Much Decimates GA" On Oahu

News and Analysis By ANN Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell

ANN is researching reports of a massive TFR that will severely restrict air traffic on the tiny island of Oahu... for nearly two weeks. A Presidential TFR has been published (and was disseminated as of December 19th... barely four days notice) covering most of the island and severely restricts all GA operations on or near the island.

Numerous emails and phone calls indicate that the Hawaiian aviation community, especially that part of it that derives some or all of its livelihood from aviation access, is terrified of the effect of this TFR, put in place so that the president can go away, on holiday, for Christmas.

Patterned after the airspace restriction formerly used over former President Bush's Crawford TX ranch, the TFR sets forth two pieces of airspace subject to differing but still highly limited restrictions. A 10 NM and 30 NM ring define the restrictions starting with the 10NM Ring: "The 'inner core' is... defined as a 10 NMR of 212702N/1574605W OR THE CKH331011.7 excluding the airspace southwest of the Koko Head VORTAC (CKH) 285 degree radial."

Within the 10NM ring, "All aircraft operations within the 10 NMR area listed above, known as the inner core, are prohibited except for: approved law enforcement, military aircraft directly supporting the United States Secret Service (USSS) and the office of the President of the united states, approved air ambulance flights, and regularly scheduled commercial passenger and all-cargo carriers operating under one of the following TSA-approved standard security programs/procedures: Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP), Full All-Cargo Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (FACAOSSP), Model Security Program (MSP), Twelve Five Standard Security Program (TFSSP) All Cargo, Or All-Cargo International Security Procedure (ACISP) and are arriving into and/or departing from 14 CFR Part 139 airports. All emergency/life saving flight (medical/law enforcement/firefighting) operations must coordinate with ATC prior to their departure at 808-840-6201 to avoid potential delays."

Extending to a 30NM ring (and pretty much encapsulating the entire island), the TFR states that, "For operations within the airspace between the 10 NMR and 30 NMR area(s)... known as the outer ring: all aircraft operating within the outer ring must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan with a discrete code assigned by an air traffic control (ATC) facility. Aircraft must be squawking the discrete code prior to departure and at all times while in the TFR and must remain in two-way radio communications with ATC. Aircraft may not loiter."

The TFR also states that, ominously, that "The following operations are not authorized within this TFR: flight training, practice instrument approaches, aerobatic flight, glider operations, parachute operations, ultralight, hang gliding, balloon operations, agriculture/crop dusting, animal population control flight operations, banner towing operations, sightseeing operations, model aircraft operations, model rocketry, and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Amphibious operations are prohibited within this TFR except at Honolulu International Airport (PHNL)."

The effect is staggering... outlawing civil flight over much of the island and putting extensive and nearly unworkable restrictions on much more... and worse, creating an UNSAFE situation in which many operations that might have been conducted over land would be pushed out FAR over the ocean and creating extensive and inexplicable hazards for many GA operations attempting to stay on the right side of the so-called lawful order inherent in the TFR.

Individual pilots and aircraft operators on the island are outraged... while attempts to meet with security officials led to a frustrating stand-off in which security interests trumped the rights of innocent free Americans to fly for business or recreational purposes so that the President can vacation on the island. Secret Service interests seemed to be adamant that GA was seen as a primary threat, necessitating extensive restrictions, while not hampering ground and sea interests in t he same fashion... or seeing the problems inherent in using TFR parameters once established for a somewhat open area of Texas over a tiny island in the Pacific. Numerous local interests noted that the Secret Service, "...clearly hasn't thought this through..."

One pilot told ANN, "it would be one thing if the President had something important to do in demanding that we not fly... but this is a vacation for God's sake... and our business interests as well as our right to fly where we choose would be more im important than anyone's vacation."

A well-known seaplane tour operator complained that the TFR forces his business to take a two week vacation without pay-- after spending money to advertise Christmas specials for the holidays and noted that reservations for that time were starting to come in "pretty well." "I have flown for 53 years and have over 39,000 hours of accident free flying and am a veteran of the USMC during the Korean war. I do no feel that I am a threat to our government, but they must feel differently."

The operator, Island Seaplane service, run by Pat and Debbie Magie opined that, "This directive basically shuts down all general aviation on the entire island of Oahu and - specifically names sightseeing tours and flight training. We are a very small operation with my wife and I basically doing almost everything seven days a week and we are usually off one day for Thanksgiving and one day for  Christmas. That is two days a year off and we cannot afford to take two weeks off over a potentially busy holiday. 9/11 taught all of us that the airlines are the size of equipment that can cause damage, and in subsequent incident a training type aircraft flew into the 15th floor of a building and simply broke a window and killed only the pilot. It might be a lot safer if all the airlines were shut down and the smaller aircraft to fly."

ANN E-I-C Analysis: Presidential TFRs have been a fact of life since the tragedies of 9/11... though their presence has multiplied far more than the postulated reality of the threat (and far more aggressively than other transportation systems with known and proven potential for use by terrorists... i.e., like rental trucks) and the areas grabbed by such restrictions continues to grow. Numerous VIP and associated TFRs have sprung up with little or no warning, and have been blamed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business as well as undue restrictions on known licensed airmen who have undergone extensive government mandated instruction and supervision in order to become pilots.

This kind of government over-reaction is going to only increase... and become far more restrictive, ponderous, costly and... DEADLY.

While aviation interests have, on occasion, spoken fairly loudly in opposition, none have gotten as aggressive as they need to be to head off these needless restrictions before further damage is done to an industry already reeling under the weight of the misinformation and mistreatment this administration has forced upon it. It is time for far more aggressive measures and if AOPA, EAA, and the like really want the aviation community's membership dues and support, we feel a more aggressive approach is not only advised, but vitally necessary. Aviation can not survive with these and similar restrictions placed upon it, time after time.

Sooner or later, this industry is going to learn it needs to stand up, in overtly aggressive terms and refuse to stand idly by while the government that was elected to serve us, attempts to destroy us. -- Jim Campbell, Editor-In-Chief, ANN. 



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