The FAA has banned unauthorized U.S. aircraft from entering Bahamian airspace to clear the airspace for government and sanctioned humanitarian flights. A TFR was issued Sunday at the request of the Bahamian government and any U.S. aircraft busting the TFR can expect a call from the agency. The move comes after days of frustration over Good Samaritan pilots clogging Bahamian airports and getting in the way of the coordinated relief effort.
The TFR came a day after AOPA issued a statement asking well-meaning private operators to stay away from the Bahamas and instead donate to one of the many relief organizations now helping out. “The passion general aviation pilots have for assisting is remarkable,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Having to follow procedures and live with airspace restrictions can be frustrating when the need is so great. However, in this case, the responsible thing to do is to work with the authorities and the procedures that are being established—and updated daily as conditions change—so that we can be as effective as possible.”
The Bahamas had earlier put a TFR over Grand Bahama International Airport and the FAA started supplying air traffic control services from an AWACs plane circling the island to help Bahamian authorities cope with the unprecedented situation. As it stands now, pilots must get prior permission to fly into Grand Bahama or Treasure Cay (242-322-6081 or 242-322-6085 or directly from ATC). Many pilots anxious to help out busted the Bahamian TFR and violated other procedures and that resulted in the escalated action by the FAA.