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Temporary Flight Restrictions

Introduction:

  • Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are issued in order to clear airspace for the purpose of security or safety
  • TFRs are published on the Federal Aviation Administration website at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html
  • Pilots are responsible to comply with 14 CFR Sections 91.137, 91.138, 91.141 and 91.143 when conducting flight in an area where a temporary flight restrictions area is in effect, and in accordance with FAR 91.103, checked before every flight

Purpose of Temporary Flight Restrictions:

  1. Protect persons and property in the air or on the surface from an existing or imminent hazard associated with an incident on the surface when the presence of low flying aircraft would magnify, alter, spread, or compound that hazard
  2. Provide a safe environment for the operations of disaster relief
  3. Prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing aircraft above an incident or event which may generate a high degree of public interest
  4. Protect declared national disasters for humanitarian reasons in Hawaii
  5. Protect the president and vice president as well as public figures
  6. Provide a safe environment for space agency operations

Issuance:

  • May be issued by Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs) via Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs) if enough warning exists
    • Temporary Flight Restrictions are usually not depicted due to the short notice and short duration, but some, like Disney World, will always be published
  • Usually issued 30 days in advance
  • There is an exclusion within the TFR for if you're under ATC control
    • So if you're flying into an area you're not familiar with, get flight following and you are better covered
  • To preclude misunderstanding, the implementing NOTAM will contain specific and formatted information
    • The facility establishing a temporary flight restrictions area will format a NOTAM beginning with the phrase "FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS" followed by: the location of the temporary flight restrictions area; the effective period; the area defined in statute miles; the altitudes affected; the FAA coordination facility and commercial telephone number; the reason for the temporary flight restrictions; the agency directing any relief activities and its commercial telephone number; and other information considered appropriate by the issuing authority
Disney World Temporary Flight Restriction
Figure 1: Disney World Temporary Flight Restriction

Imminent Hazards:

  • The type of restrictions issued will be kept to a minimum by the FAA consistent with achievement of the necessary objective
  • Established by or through the area manager at the ARTCC having jurisdiction over the area concerned
  • The FAA accepts recommendations for the establishment of a temporary flight restrictions area under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(1) from military major command headquarters, regional directors of the Office of Emergency Planning, Civil Defense State Directors, State Governors, or other similar authority
  • The appropriate FAA air traffic element, upon receipt of such a request, will establish a temporary flight restrictions area under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(1)
  • Situations which warrant the extreme restrictions of 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(1) include, but are not limited to:
    • Toxic gas leaks or spills;
    • Flammable agents, or fumes which if fanned by rotor or propeller wash could endanger persons or property on the surface, or if entered by an aircraft could endanger persons or property in the air;
    • Imminent volcano eruptions which could endanger airborne aircraft and occupants;
    • Nuclear accident or incident; and,
    • Hijackings
  • When hijacking situations are involved, a temporary flight restrictions area will be implemented through the TSA Aviation Command Center
    • The appropriate FAA air traffic element, upon receipt of such a request, will establish a temporary flight restrictions area under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(1)
  • The following NOTAM prohibits all aircraft operations except those specified in the NOTAM:
    • Flight restrictions Matthews, Virginia, effective immediately until 9610211200. Pursuant to 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(1) temporary flight restrictions are in effect. Rescue operations in progress. Only relief aircraft operations under the direction of the Department of Defense are authorized in the airspace at and below 5,000 feet MSL within a 2−nautical−mile radius of Laser AFB, Matthews, Virginia. Commander, Laser AFB, in charge (897) 946−5543 (122.4). Steenson FSS (792) 555−6141 (123.1) is the FAA coordination facility

Disaster Relief:

  • Established by or through the area manager at the ARTCC having jurisdiction over the area concerned
  • The FAA accepts recommendations from military commanders serving as regional, subregional, or Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinators; by military commanders directing or coordinating air operations associated with disaster relief; or by civil authorities directing or coordinating organized relief air operations (includes representatives of the Office of Emergency Planning, U.S. Forest Service, and State aeronautical agencies)
  • Situations which warrant the restrictions associated with 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(2) include:
    • Forest fires which are being fought by releasing fire retardants from aircraft; and,
    • Aircraft relief activities following a disaster (earthquake, tidal wave, flood, etc.)
  • The following NOTAM example provides a safe area for fire fighting operations:
    • Flight restrictions 25 miles east of Bransome, Idaho, effective immediately until 9601202359 UTC. Pursuant to 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(2) temporary flight restrictions are in effect within a 4−nautical−mile radius of the intersection of county roads 564 and 315 at and below 3,500 feet MSL to provide a safe environment for fire fighting aircraft operations. Davis County sheriff's department (792) 555−8122 (122.9) is in charge of on-scene emergency response activities. Glivings FSS (792) 555−1618 (122.2) is the FAA coordination facility
  • ATC may authorize operations in a temporary flight restrictions area under its own authority only when flight restrictions are established under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(2) and (a)(3). The appropriate ARTCC/airport traffic control tower manager will, however, ensure that such authorized flights do not hamper activities or interfere with the event for which restrictions were implemented. However, ATC will not authorize local IFR flights into the temporary flight restrictions area

Unsafe Congestion:

  • Issued at the direction of the service area office director having oversight of the airspace concerned
  • 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(3) restrictions are established for events and incidents that would attract an unsafe congestion of sightseeing aircraft
  • Appropriate authorities for a temporary flight restrictions establishment under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(3) are any of those listed above or by State, county, or city government entities
  • The amount of airspace needed to protect persons and property or provide a safe environment for rescue/relief aircraft operations is normally limited to within 2,000' above the surface and within a 3-nautical-mile radius
  • Incidents occurring within Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace will normally be handled through existing procedures and should not require the issuance of a temporary flight restrictions NOTAM
  • Temporary flight restrictions affecting airspace outside of the U.S. and its territories and possessions are issued with verbiage excluding that airspace outside of the 12-mile coastal limits
  • The following NOTAM prohibits sightseeing aircraft operations:
    • Flight restrictions Brown, Tennessee, due to olympic activity. Effective 9606181100 UTC until 9607190200 UTC. Pursuant to 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(3) temporary flight restrictions are in effect within a 3-NM radius of N355783/W835242 and Volunteer VORTAC 019 degree radial 3.7 DME fix at and below 2,500 feet MSL. Norton FSS (423) 555-6742 (126.6) is the FAA coordination facility
  • ATC may authorize operations in a temporary flight restrictions area under its own authority only when flight restrictions are established under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(2) and (a)(3). The appropriate ARTCC/airport traffic control tower manager will, however, ensure that such authorized flights do not hamper activities or interfere with the event for which restrictions were implemented. However, ATC will not authorize local IFR flights into the temporary flight restrictions area
  • The ARTCC nearest the incident site is normally the "coordination facility." When FAA communications assistance is required, the designated ARTCC will function as the primary communications facility for coordination between emergency control authorities and affected aircraft

Hawaii Disaster Relief

  • 14 CFR Section 91.138:
  • The following NOTAM prohibits all aircraft except those operating under the authorization of the official in charge of associated emergency or disaster relief response activities, aircraft carrying law enforcement officials, aircraft carrying personnel involved in an emergency or legitimate scientific purposes, carrying properly accredited news media, and aircraft operating in accordance with an ATC clearance or instruction:
    • Flight restrictions Kapalua, Hawaii, effective 9605101200 UTC until 9605151500 UTC. Pursuant to 14vCFR Section?91.138 temporary flight restrictions are in effect within a 3-nautical-mile radius of N205778/W1564038 and Maui/OGG/VORTAC 275 degree radial at 14.1-NM. John Doe 808-757-4469 or 122.4 is in charge of the operation. Honolulu/HNL 808-757-4470 (123.6) FSS is the FAA coordination facility

Proximity of the President and other parties:

  • No person may operate an aircraft over or in the vicinity of an area to be visited or traveled by the President, Vice President, or other public figures contrary to the restrictions established by the Administrator and published in the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)
  • The following NOTAM example prohibits all aircraft:
    • Flight restrictions Stillwater, Oklahoma, June 21, 1996. Pursuant to 14 CFR Section 91.141 aircraft flight operations are prohibited within a 3−nautical−mile radius, below 2000 feet AGL of N360962/W970515 and the Stillwater/SWO/VOR/DME 176 degree radial 3.8−nautical−mile fix from 1400 local time to 1700 local time June 21, 1996, unless otherwise authorized by ATC

Space Agency Operations:

  • 14 CFR Section 91.143
  • The following NOTAM example prohibits any aircraft of U.S. registry, or pilot any aircraft under the authority of an airman certificate issued by the FAA:
    • Kennedy space center space operations area effective immediately until 9610152100 UTC. Pursuant to 14 CFR Section 91.143, flight operations conducted by FAA certificated pilots or conducted in aircraft of U.S. registry are prohibited at any altitude from surface to unlimited, within the following area 30-nautical-mile radius of the Melbourne/MLB/VORTAC 010 degree radial 21-nautical-mile fix. St. Petersburg, Florida/PIE/FSS 813-545-1645 (122.2) is the FAA coordination facility and should be contacted for the current status of any airspace associated with the space shuttle operations. This airspace encompasses R2933, R2932, R2931, R2934, R2935, W497A and W158A. Additional warning and restricted areas will be active in conjunction with the operations. Pilots must consult all NOTAMs regarding this operation

Notes:

  • The FSS nearest the incident site is normally the "coordination facility." When FAA communications assistance is required, the designated FSS will function as the primary communications facility for coordination between emergency control authorities and affected aircraft. The ARTCC may act as liaison for the emergency control authorities if adequate communications cannot be established between the designated FSS and the relief organization. For example, the coordination facility may relay authorizations from the on-scene emergency response official in cases where news media aircraft operations are approved at the altitudes used by relief aircraft
  • ATC may authorize operations in a temporary flight restrictions area under its own authority only when flight restrictions are established under 14 CFR Section 91.137(a)(2) and (a)(3). The appropriate ARTCC/airport traffic control tower manager will, however, ensure that such authorized flights do not hamper activities or interfere with the event for which restrictions were implemented. However, ATC will not authorize local IFR flights into the temporary flight restrictions area
  • To preclude misunderstanding, the implementing NOTAM will contain specific and formatted information. The facility establishing a temporary flight restrictions area will format a NOTAM beginning with the phrase "FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS" followed by: the location of the temporary flight restrictions area; the effective period; the area defined in statute miles; the altitudes affected; the FAA coordination facility and commercial telephone number; the reason for the temporary flight restrictions; the agency directing any relief activities and its commercial telephone number; and other information considered appropriate by the issuing authority
Washington D.C. Temporary Flight Restriction
Figure 2: Washington D.C. Temporary Flight Restriction

No person may operate within this airspace unless:

  • Participating in the hazard relief under the official in charge of the scene
  • Law enforcement, event, or legitimate scientific officials are on board
  • Operating under the ATC approved IFR flight plan
  • Operation is conducted directly to or from an airport within the area or is necessitated by the impracticably of the VFR flight above or around the area due to weather, or terrain
    • Notify FSS or ATC facility issuing the TFR
  • The aircraft is carrying properly accredited news representatives and prior to entering the area a flight plan has been filed
    • Must include aircraft identification, type, color
    • Radio communication frequencies to be used
    • Proposed times of entry and exit
    • Names of news media or organization and purpose of flight
    • Any other information requested by ATC
  • Typically not depicted on sectionals
  • When any information indicates that barometric pressure exceeds 31 in-Hg, no person may operate unless a waiver is granted by the Administrator for emergency reasons
Disney World TFR Airspace
Figure 3: Disney World TFR Notice

Demonstration events that may cause a TFR:

  • Blue Angels
  • Thunderbirds
  • Golden Knights
  • Olympic Games
  • Annual Tournament of Roses Football Game
  • World Cup Soccer

  • Disney World TFR Airspace
    Figure 4: Disney World TFR Description
  • Major League Baseball All-Star Game
  • World Series
  • Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • Sandia Classic Hang Gliding Competition
  • Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
  • Any other aerial demonstration or sporting event the FAA determines to need a TFR
  • Usually limited to 5 NM radius to an altitude of 17,000' MSL for aircraft, 13,000' MSL for parachute operations
  • Demonstration TFR Events
    Figure 5: Demonstration TFR Events
  • Sporting events usually limited to 3 NM radius and 2,500'
  • Additional information available in Aeronautical Information Manual 3-5-3

Hazard/Disaster Areas:

  • The Administrator will issue a NOTAM designating an area within which temporary flight restrictions apply and specifying the hazard or condition requiring their imposition, whenever he determines it is necessary in order to:
    1. Protect persons and property on the surface or in the air from a hazard associated with an incident on the surface;
    2. Provide a safe environment for the operation of disaster relief aircraft; or
    3. Prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing and other aircraft above an incident or event which may generate a high degree of public interest
      • The NOTAM will specify the hazard or condition that requires the imposition of TFRs
  • When a NOTAM has been issued under condition 1 above, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless that aircraft is participating in the hazard relief activities and is being operated under the direction of the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities
  • When a NOTAM has been issued under condition 2 above, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless at least one of the following conditions are met:
    • The aircraft is participating in hazard relief activities and is being operated under the direction of the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities
    • The aircraft is carrying law enforcement officials
    • The aircraft is operating under the ATC approved IFR flight plan
    • The operation is conducted directly to or from an airport within the area, or is necessitated by the impracticability of VFR flight above or around the area due to weather, or terrain; notification is given to the Flight Service Station (FSS) or ATC facility specified in the NOTAM to receive advisories concerning disaster relief aircraft operations; and the operation does not hamper or endanger relief activities and is not conducted for the purpose of observing the disaster
    • The aircraft is carrying properly accredited news representatives, and, prior to entering the area, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FAA or ATC facility specified in the Notice to Airmen and the operation is conducted above the altitude used by the disaster relief aircraft, unless otherwise authorized by the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities
  • When a NOTAM has been issued under condition 3 above, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless at least one of the following conditions is met:
    • The operation is conducted directly to or from an airport within the area, or is necessitated by the impracticability of VFR flight above or around the area due to weather or terrain, and the operation is not conducted for the purpose of observing the incident or event
    • The aircraft is operating under an ATC approved IFR flight plan
    • The aircraft is carrying incident or event personnel, or law enforcement officials
    • The aircraft is carrying properly accredited news representatives and, prior to entering that area, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FSS or ATC facility specified in the NOTAM
  • Flight plans filed and notifications made with an FSS or ATC facility under this section shall include the following information:
    • Aircraft identification, type and color
    • Radio communications frequencies to be used
    • Proposed times of entry of, and exit from, the designated area
    • Name of news media or organization and purpose of flight
    • Any other information requested by ATC

Conclusion:

  • The Federal Aviation Regulations are explicit as to what operations are prohibited, restricted, or allowed in a temporary flight restrictions area
  • Pilots are responsible to comply with 14 CFR Sections 91.137, 91.138, 91.141 and 91.143 when conducting flight in an area where a temporary flight restrictions area is in effect, and should check appropriate NOTAMs during flight planning

References: