Dec. 19, 2016
Navigator: Graphical TFRs Help Convey Airspace Restrictions
When it comes to temporary flight restriction (TFR) NOTAMs, the idea is straightforward – make a section of airspace unavailable for a period of time, due to a particular constraint. However, the process of defining the affected airspace and then communicating the timing of the TFR and the requirements for aircraft operators can be complex.
NBAA for many years has presented its members with information on VIP TFRs – that is, those TFRs that are created due to the movements of the U.S. president and vice president.
Until recently, however, that information was limited to text-only descriptions of the TFRs. While NBAA has been providing impact statements for VIP TFRs for some time, there were still no useable graphics to help operators determine the impact of these restrictions on them.
That changed this year when NBAA Air Traffic Services (ATS) was able to gain permission from the FAA to publicly distribute VIP TFR graphics that were previously only available internally to ATC facilities. ese graphics clearly illustrate the impact that each VIP TFR has, particularly showing which airports are affected and when.
GRAPHICAL TFR OVERVIEW
For example, the graphic above shows a presidential TFR for the Orlando, FL, area in June 2016, outlining the outer 30-nm TFR ring and two inner 10-nm rings.
Seeing the TFR graphically in this manner enables aircraft operators to get a much better sense of the areas that will be impacted when the TFR becomes active. Additionally, it enables them to clearly see which airports are inside, or close to, the more restrictive inner rings of the TFR – in this case, Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando Executive Airport (ORL) and Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM).
The use of labels on the map gives additional useful information about the progression of the TFR over time.
- Area A was the outer 30-nm TFR ring that was in effect for the duration of the TFR. General aviation (GA) traffic was allowed in this area, as long as the aircraft were operating IFR and in communication with ATC.
- Area B was centered on MCO and was in effect for about an hour during the president’s arrival at that airport. During that time, GA operations were not permitted at MCO and ORL, with only certain operations being allowed at ISM, depending on runways in use.
- Area C was centered on a point farther north and was in effect for about five hours. is covered the area where the president was attending an event. During that time, GA operations were not permitted at MCO and ORL.
- Area D was the same as Area B (carrying the same restrictions), but covered the time of the president’s departure from MCO.
TFR IMPROVEMENTS COMING
While these graphics are a great resource for operators, NBAA Air Traffic Services is going further, participating in a working group being led by RTCA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Tasked with improving the way that TFRs are created, presented and distributed to aircraft operators, the group is working on a set of recommendations that will be presented to the FAA early next year.
“The goal is to make improvements that will greatly enhance the ability for pilots and flight planners to access and easily interpret TFRs,” said NBAA ATS Project Manager Jim McClay.
Other items on the working group’s agenda include improving the way that TFRs are described in the NOTAM text; standardization of TFR graphical representations in avionics systems; depictions of long-term TFRs on aeronautical charts; standardization of the tools used to create TFRs; and the methodology used by Flight Service and ATC in briefing pilots.
Visit NBAA’s TFR resources at www.nbaa.org/tfr.
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This article originally appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of Business Aviation Insider. Download the magazine app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.