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Hawaii Presidential TFR Remains a GA Burden

December 29, 2009 — Halfway through President Obama's vacation in Hawaii, the large Temporary Flight Restriction over the island of Oahu continues to be a major hurdle for general aviation pilots and businesses on that Hawaiian island.

As first reported last week, the TFR incorporates a 10-mile inner ring and 30-mile outer ring over much of Oahu, Hawaii's most populated island and home of the state capital, Honolulu. The TFR in that area will be in effect until noon, local time, on Monday, Jan. 4. The TFR comes during Hawaii's prime holiday tourism season, which includes many businesses that operate sightseeing and other flights for visitors. It has created hardships that range from additional pre-flight paperwork and inspections to the possible shutdown of an entire operation, which during the prime holiday tourist season could cost a business tens of thousands of dollars.

Among some of the difficulties voiced to EAA included:

  • "The Secret Service and TSA are adamant that this situation that allows only a limited number of operators to fly is a privilege and a TEST. They show up at 0900, no earlier, at one location for the entire island, search all pilots and passengers and clear the names on the Watch List/No Fly List with a cell phone, which takes a long time. As an aside, the corporate operators I routinely audit can do the same task in a fraction of the time. No relief is given if the pilot needs to use the lavatory and none is provided on the "secure side" of the screening. These rules are unnecessary and an unbelievable strain on all aviation, especially general aviation on Oahu. Lost revenue, lost wages and lost time are the story."
  • "Been attempting to work out some sort of compromise to allow us to support our clients on the Island of Oahu during the TFR. We have made requests to have a (TSA) screener located at (the resort) where we operate and have been repeatedly denied. We have been given a verbal approval for a waiver for operations during the TFR, but would have to fly our passengers to Honolulu to have the aircraft, pilot, and passengers screened prior to actually conducting a tour. We could then fly a tour along the same patterns as the other companies. This option is not really economically feasible for us due to extra flight time, the loss of some of our shorter tours, and the fact that we would realistically only be able to fit two to three tours into a day if we are lucky."
  • "We also have (Part) 135 pilot training and check rides that will have to be done on Lanai and Molokai. This is an extra cost to go elsewhere to training and keep current."
  • "Lost a PPL student who was going to fly in from overseas. Over 9,000 bucks for the two weeks for a full PPL program that I took time off for. Plus lost revenue from his stay in Honolulu and meals he would have contributed to the economy, etc. He is going to the mainland to do his flight training."

The size and duration of this specific TFR are among the greatest concerns of the Hawaii situation, but EAA remains greatly concerned over the overall TFR system. Complicating the efforts of EAA, AOPA and other aviation organizations are recent threats against airliners that have fostered higher overall security pressures.

"EAA reiterates that no one questions the need to protect the President, but the size and scope of the TFRs have been a constant hardship on the aviation community for a number of years," said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs.

"We are now hearing how individual businesses have been negatively affected by this TFR, even when they have taken great pains to offer possible solutions and alternatives. EAA believes there are better ways to accomplish the necessary security that still allow the ability for individual businesspeople to survive when such TFRs become necessary."

EAA, AOPA and other groups continue to highlight this issue to federal officials because of the direct impact TFRs have on aviation businesses. Complete information on this and other TFRs are available through AeroPlanner service on the EAA website or at www.aeroplanner.com.

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