FSS Error May Clear TFR-Busting Pilots

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The FAA says it will likely clear the records of 12 pilots who violated a temporary flight restriction (TFR) near Camp David last weekend on their way to an antique fly-in at Hagerstown. According to the Federal Times, a Capitol Hill news magazine, the pilots may not have been told about the TFR when they checked for NOTAMs with flight service before heading to Hagerstown. "Generally, if we determine they were not properly briefed we don't take enforcement action," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told AVweb on the weekend. The Federal Times quoted Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, as telling a hearing on the performance of flight service since its takeover by Lockheed Martin that the errant pilots in Maryland weren't told about the TFR because flight service lost their notification of it. "We can and must do better," Costello said.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled F-16s to intercept at least four of the aircraft, some of which did not have radios and couldn't be notified of their incursion that way. What followed was the usual verbal pat-down from Secret Service agents and the looming specter of sanctions by the FAA. Although Lockheed Martin has said recently it is doing better at providing the level of service it promised when taking over the system, an Office of Inspector General spokesman told the hearing the company missed 13 of 21 performance parameters when the takeover was completed in August.