West Point 182 Busts United Nations TFR

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A Cessna 182 operated by U.S. Military Academy West Point violated a TFR associated with a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday. According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the aircraft was intercepted by F-16s over the Hudson River and escorted out of the TFR at around 2:00 p.m. local time. The incident is under investigation.

“A West Point fixed wing aircraft flown by an Army instructor pilot conducting a cadet flight lab in support of ME481, a Civil and Mechanical Engineering class, briefly violated temporarily restricted airspace this afternoon near the George Washington Bridge,” West Point spokesperson Lt. Col. Beth Smith said in a statement to Military Times on Tuesday. “Once they realized they had violated the airspace, they immediately left the area and returned to the airport.”

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday, Sep. 14, and is scheduled to continue through next week. Associated TFRs are expected to be in place throughout the session.

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22 COMMENTS

      • While there is plenty of room for debate as to whether or not TFRs provide any real security benefit and whether or not they are often too large, every pilot is responsible for pre-flight planning. Notams for TFRs are published well in advance and nowadays we have the ability to get graphical depiction of TFRs on our tablets and cell phones. So while pilots who violate them may not be criminals in any sense of the word, they are not innocent. At the very least they have violated 14CFR91.103, which means they are guilty of poor airmanship due to lack of pre-flight planning which should put their fitness to fly in question.

        • That all sounds good and would make sense. If it were always true. We have experienced TFRs popping up unannounced without prior warning. One example is when the President travels he has a moving TFR over his position. There was an aircraft flying along a prescribed route on pipeline patrol who happened to cross over a highway the Presidential motorcade was on. That wasn’t on any NOTAMs or prior TFR maps as it was a moving TFR changing with the whims of the VIP or his escorts. And speaking of NOTAMs, which TFRs use for notification, we have regular GPS outages in our area from military testing and these practically never get published in advance of the test. Which is plain wrong. I had a buddy hit a mountain in IMC one afternoon when the local military test facility decided to jam GPS. Who would run such a test on a inclement weather day? No doubt it was pilot error but they sure didn’t help when they pulled the plug on his primary nav.

        • “Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.”

          Which is a catch-all for a “go straight to jail card”. There’s a reason 91.103 is written so poorly.

          “All information available”, means “all”; 100%. I don’t care how many hours you spend pre-flight planning, I don’t care how safe a pilot you are, nothing is 100%. There is no possible way to be aware of all available information.

          And on top of that, we’ll through in 20 pages of cryptic NOTAMs that may or may not pertain to your flight….just make sure you’re aware of all of it.

          • And that is the crux of the problem. 25 years ago, I may find ten NOTAMs for a long cross-country, nine of which are about antenna tower lights out, and one saying there’s construction on a taxiway. Now I would get 50, and they are more verbose. I guess they’ve made it too easy to file one. CYA everywhere.

          • It does seem that the regulatory state likes to make things easy on itself at our expense. They are always covered, and the rest of us are responsible. No excuses.

            Just wait until the FAA figures out it can do what the IRS does which is not speak to you. They cannot be held responsible if you could not reach them.

            Or, they get wind of FBI and ATF tactics where they entrap people so they can get their numbers and good press while avoiding hard police work.

            Btw, I contacted my Congressman’s office about the IRS not taking phone calls, and they sent me a form saying they cannot get involved with IRS issues unless I release all my tax info to them. I pointed out they could have some interns try to get through on the phone in preparation for calling the directors up to the hill and publicly ending their careers which would be great press for them. They declined until they get the release.

    • TFR’s exist for a reason, in cases like this mainly security. That is no different than various roads being closed for various reasons, you aren’t supposed to use them. While it is not possible to put up “candy striped barriers” in the sky, the FAA does post the NOTAMs. It has been remarked here that the NOTAMs are lengthy and confusing and they often are, especially to those that don’t read them everyday but one can figure them out. In addition, it only took me about 30 seconds to Google ”
      Current FAA TFR Map” and be looking at a sectional map of the TFR in question. Today, the similar NOTAM lists this TFR as the LGA 271/ 0.4 for a three mile diameter, surface to 2999′ for VIP movement. I found this data in less than a minute and the last time I saddled up a plane (B-747-200) was in 2009. Not trying to throw any stones here but folks operating in or around busy places like NYC need to take the time to be far more cognizant of what they are doing and where they are going. Back home in Western NY a local VFR hop was pretty much a piece of cake with no traffic and no worries other than looking to the west to see if any weather was coming. Operating in the NYC area takes a lot more prep and caution.
      This is the part of driving airplanes that, if ignored, will bite one in the posterior one day.

      • Lots of things exist for reasons. No one really thinks there are no reasons. Even when people say there’s no reason for something, they actually don’t mean that. It’s just an expression, and there’s a reason people use the expression.

        The real issue is whether the ostensible reason for something is the real reason and whether the total outcome is better for everyone rather than for just the people who are paid to be managing something.

        Unfortunately, the vast majority of pilots are of the type that don’t bother with the real issue. There’s good reasons for that, but it’s not always a good thing.

  1. We once enforced a No Fly Zone over Iraq.
    That zone is gone, now.
    But the Al Qaeda No Fly Zones over our nation’s cities will be in place forever, preventing flights even by our own military personnel.
    Cue Alanis Morissette song.

    • Simple, they had no specific need to be there so, like everyone else, they were excluded. Back during the Controller Strike in the 80’s, we in the military operated at a far lesser frequency than normal unless we could operate basically VFR. IFR flights were not approved unless that had a specific need.