Aviation advocates working with the TSA last year made progress in lessening the impact of TFRs on Hawaii's airport businesses during a presidential visit, and now six GA groups are asking the TSA to loosen its grip nationwide. In a letter (PDF) to TSA Administrator John Pistole, the groups ask for procedures that would allow general aviation operations at near-normal levels while still addressing the security measures necessary to protect the president. Plans already in place at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport allow GA aircraft to share the airspace with the president, the groups said, and those procedures could be implemented elsewhere.
The impact of TFRs as they are currently imposed is not inconsequential. "For instance, a fixed base operator at Chicago's Midway Airport loses an average of $60,000 in revenue daily when the president visits the Chicago area," says the letter. "Also, helicopter air tour operators In Hawaii and Las Vegas experience losses in excess of $150,000 during each presidential visit." Presidential TFRs typically stop or severely limit GA operations at airports within a 30-nm radius of the president's location, causing serious financial consequences for GA operators while allowing commercial airline flights to continue. The letter was signed by the leaders of NBAA, AOPA, EAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International and the National Air Transportation Association.