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Tue, Dec 09, 2003

GA Has Good Friends In The PA Legislature

Pennsylvania Legislature Calls For Smaller Presidential TFRs

Remember that poor pipeline patrol pilot who unwittingly flew over the Presidential motorcade in Philadelphia earlier this year?

The Pennsylvania legislature certainly does. AOPA President Phil Boyer was the honored guest of state Rep. Gene McGill (R-Dist. 151) as the state House of Representatives on Monday passed by a near-unanimous vote a resolution sponsored by McGill that calls on federal security officials to reduce the size of Presidential movement temporary flight restrictions (TFRs).

The four-page resolution also calls for authorities to "reconsider the need to issue such restrictions based on nonspecific threats and ways to improve the timely dissemination of flight restriction information to pilots."

Presenting the measure on the floor of the House, McGill, an AOPA member, said, "If it wasn't for the help and assistance of AOPA to carry this message to Washington, D.C., this resolution would not be possible."

In step-by-step detail, the resolution outlines the importance of general aviation in Pennsylvania and nationwide, the lopsided nature of the TFRs — affecting only GA, not scheduled air carriers, the economic impact of the TFRs and the confusion they can cause.

"Pennsylvania lawmakers are serious about getting this message across to the federal government," said Boyer. "The resolution is being sent to President Bush, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, the director of the U.S. Secret Service, and each member of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation.

"All pilots recognize the need to protect the President, but at some point someone in a position of authority needs to step back and ask if the excessively large airspace restrictions are worth the cost to a vital portion of America's transportation industry."

PA HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 411 Session of 2003
Urging the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration to consider reducing the size of residential movement temporary flight restrictions.

WHEREAS, General aviation accounts for over 637,000 jobs nationwide with an economic impact exceeding $102 billion annually; and

WHEREAS, According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aviation, over 698,000 visitors arrive in Pennsylvania via general aviation aircraft, providing almost $54 million to Pennsylvania's economy; and

WHEREAS, During a presidential visit to any area in the nation, each general aviation airport site has a temporary flight restriction (TFR) imposed, affecting all general aviation operations within a 30-nautical-mile radius or more and prohibiting any general aviation flight within ten nautical miles; and

WHEREAS, These restrictions do not affect scheduled passenger airline flights, air cargo flights, law enforcement helicopters or life flight helicopters; and

WHEREAS, General aviation is singled out for these restrictions; and

WHEREAS, Government officials cite nonspecific security threats as a rationale for expanding the standard Presidential movement TFR from a former three-mile to five-mile radius to the current 30 miles; and

WHEREAS, During a recent visit of President George W. Bush to Philadelphia, there were 45 airports impacted by the TFR; and

WHEREAS, An 80-nautical-mile-wide swath of some of the most heavily used airspace on the East Coast was impacted; and

WHEREAS, The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) denounced the FAA's late release of a notice to airmen (NOTAM) establishing the Philadelphia TFR; and

WHEREAS, The NOTAM did not come out until after 7 p.m. Wednesday for a Thursday morning visit by the President; and

WHEREAS, Pilots were given less than 12-hours' notice, trapping some at airports affected by the TFR as operators were not given enough notice to relocate their aircraft outside the boundaries of the TFR; and

WHEREAS, At the Presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, the prohibited area is a ten-nautical-mile radius when the President visits, but security officials have recently proposed making it a 30-nautical-mile radius; and

WHEREAS, The proposed TFR area would stretch from Pennsylvania to Virginia and West Virginia, affecting operations at about a dozen airports, and would leave a corridor less than ten nautical miles wide between the Camp David restricted airspace and the 15-nautical-mile radius no-fly zone around Washington, D.C., and access to even that narrow gap would be restricted because it falls entirely within the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ); and

WHEREAS, There are not specific numbers on the lost revenue for these airports, but the typical general aviation airport with 100 based aircraft and no air carrier service is estimated to have a transportation benefit of $1 million annually; and

WHEREAS, This $1 million does not include the following indirect economic benefits:

(1) each dollar spent by general aviation and an aviation-dependent business generates an additional $1.52 in economic activity;

(2) for every job at an airport, nearly three are created in the visitor-related economy; and

(3) aviation-related businesses contribute $105 million in local taxes; and

WHEREAS, Because TFR airspace frequently changes, AOPA strongly encourages pilots to obtain a briefing and check NOTAMS before every flight; and

WHEREAS, Violators are intercepted and forced to land; and

WHEREAS, On July 25, 2003, a pipeline patrol pilot on a legitimate flight confronted an F-16 and 30 drawn guns after accidentally overflying President Bush's motorcade in Philadelphia; and

WHEREAS, After the forced landing and interrogation of the unnamed pilot, the Secret Service released him, concluding he posed no threat; and

WHEREAS, According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, air traffic controllers from Philadelphia International Airport had tried unsuccessfully to contact the pilot as he approached the motorcade route; and

WHEREAS, Frequently pilots experience delays as air traffic controllers search for flight plans they had not received, or pilots circle when controllers cannot find a flight plan on file; and

WHEREAS, AOPA has also received multiple reports of pilots calling on a landline to receive a beacon code and not being able to get through; and

WHEREAS, On several occasions, confused pilots transmitted on the wrong frequency or were handed off to the wrong controller; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration to consider reducing the size of Presidential movement TFRs and to reconsider the need to issue such restrictions based on nonspecific threats and ways to improve the timely dissemination of flight restriction information to pilots; and be it further

RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the  President of the United States, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Secret Service, the Director of the Federal Aviation Administration and each member of Congress from Pennsylvania.



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