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Sporting event TFR violations


Trans Lift

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Huge pet peeve of mine. I fly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and there are a ton of events under the Blanket Notam that I have to be aware of. I have a buddy that works at FSS and he says they will not brief you of the blanket Notams. I tried it one day, go ahead and call for a briefing when you know there is a game along your route and guaranteed they will not know of it.

 

I had to get a sports app(ScoreMobile) for my phone(unfortunately I don't follow sports close) and try and track all the college div 1, NFL, MBL and nascar events in my area. So I don't accidently fly into a Blanket Notam TFR

 

All the FAA will give you is this Blanket Notam (click on link)and the rest is up to you so you don't bust it.

 

My beef with it is if they have someone policing this(if they even do) then that person should be able to file a Notam or issue a TFR so that it can be disseminated to pilots. The argument is well you never know when the game is over or if it goes into overtime. Why can't the nearest FSS or tower keep track of it and end the TFR through the system that we are supposed to check for TFRs. There is a great website that shows all the TFRs except the blanket notams are never listed.

 

It amazes me with technology we have today that something couldn't be done better.

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Yeah the whole things is BS. I dont get the point of them anyway. If someone is going to fly over a stadium and drop a bomb, there is no-one that is going to stop them. Its not like there are fighters patrolling them. I had an issue with the one in Pittsburgh (Pirates) last August. There was no NOTAM and the first I heard of it was listening to ATIS. I busted it trying to circumnavigate it to the south just before I got radar contact from Pitt Approach. 3 miles seems a bit excessive too.

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In theory, that NOTAM (5150 I think, or the stadium TFR) would shut down our airfield since we've got an NFL and MLB stadium just a mile or so away. But, as with other's experience, most of the time we know more about it than ATC does. I'm going from memory here, but there are 2 interesting clauses in that NOTAM: first, it's any stadium with a capacity of >30,000. So even though there are only about 50 diehards at Mariners games, the NOTAM should be in effect. Second, the flight restriction is waived if you are under ATC control for "operational or safety reasons".

 

From a practical standpoint, the stadium TFR has no effect on the flight operations around the airport, it's not noted on the ATIS, and tower isn't diverting traffic because of it. That said, most of our pilots request permission to fly in the vicinity of the stadiums, and if a game is going on, we give them a wide berth.

 

That's in contrast to a flight I did several years ago in the San Diego area, where there was a published TFR, and the local towers were notifying pilots and diverting flights around it.

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Wish I could remember the whole conversation with the FAA about this one, but the jist is....it's not a an FAA thing, its a TSA thing....talk to ATC and move on. Same with Disneyland...

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ATC never seems to know if there's a game or not when I ask (no sports fans working there I guess) so who is going to bust me if I bust the TFR,...i.e. who's watching us?

 

Whatever approach is controlling that area or whatever tower is closest I guess. But if you never talk to anybody and just transition through and end up busting it, I dont know who would really know. It's such a pain. I'm looking at a violation now and a possible 30 day suspension. I'm hoping the NASA report I filed that evening will get me off the suspension through the waiver.

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ATC is required to be informed of any TFR in their airspace. I did ATC for 8 yrs and if any TFR was in affect for my airspace then the FAA sent us detailed information on it. No way a controller has a TFR going on in their airspace and not knowing anything about it. Also just because you depart from a Class D doesn't mean he's going to know about it either. The approach controller responsible for the airspace that the TFR is under has the information. Just like a Restricted Area. Contact them and if it's cold they'll let you through. If hot and you have no business being in there, well you're not going through. It's really quite simple. This is the reason why I ALWAYS get flight following from approach when I leave my local area. They're going to have the most up to date information on airspace activity. Also, sporting event TFRs have been in place long before TSA was born. It's not always a security issue, it's a safety issue. If you have a bunch of people wanting to get a good look at the Super Bowl from the air, it would be a mad house. Kinda like TFRs over natural disasters. It's not because someone has a bomb, it's because you're interfering with the activities of LE,EMS,NG and FEMA flight activities in the area.

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Flight following is all good but not all of us are able to do that in our jobs. When there is no info anywhere about the TFR except for an ATIS and you are supposed to guesstimate how far you are away from a stadium that you can't even see let alone know where it is. I don't follow baseball, football or nascar and, if you are not from an area, you are supposed to know their schedules. It's ridiculous. There has to be a better way to make people aware of these TFR's.

Edited by Trans Lift
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Well I feel for ya. One of my fears is going out flying and busting a TFR without even knowing it. I use Weathermiester before I go flying. It has an excellent TFR map that depicts stadiums greater than 30,000 people, Nascar and also the other active TFRs around the country. Good luck and I hope the FAA doesn't take any action against you.

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One helicopter scooting through a sporting event TFR is probably not going to cause a problem as long as you don't fly right over the stadium low level and circle around a couple of times for some pics. If the stadium in question is within Class D airspace you'll most likely be talking to the controlling agency anyway. If not...who's gonna know?

 

I used to fly my boss up to football games (90,000 people) at the University of Alabama. Tuscaloosa Tower (less than three miles from the campus) was pretty good about orchestrating the TFR, shooing the banner-towers away at the appropriate time. But the airport was "open" even while the game was on. They just asked us not to depart over the stadium.

 

On the other hand, the stadium at Auburn University is not near a Class D airport, and I have seen some "stuff" going on! People come and go from the Auburn airport while the game is in progress. Nobody seems to care. Like someone said, it's more of a TSA thing than an FAA thing.

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I'm not sure news gathering will save you. If you said you were a National Guard R22 it might work though. :)

 

My mistake, I thought NG meant news gathering.

 

One more thing that sucks. Some of these stadiums aren't even on the charts, so if you're not from the area, well,...!?

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One helicopter scooting through a sporting event TFR is probably not going to cause a problem as long as you don't fly right over the stadium low level and circle around a couple of times for some pics.

 

Well it did. I went just inside the southern side of it and now they want to suspend me for 30 days. A bit excessive I think. Even the FAA inspector told me he just wanted to give me a warning but it was out of his hands. TSA is out for blood I guess. Hopefully my filing of the NASA report that evening will get me the waiver of sanctions. I can handle the violation but a month without work sucks. My employer has been great about it and even think its gone way too far. They are making some calls for me too.

 

Be careful with these things people. Most I talk to about it, say " Ahh you'll be fine, the FAA won't do anything about it. Sporting events aren't a big deal". Well they seem to be. Don't get caught out like I did.

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I went just inside the southern side of it and now they want to suspend me for 30 days. A bit excessive I think. Even the FAA inspector told me he just wanted to give me a warning but it was out of his hands. TSA is out for blood I guess.

 

Hopefully my filing of the NASA report that evening will get me the waiver of sanctions. I can handle the violation but a month without work sucks. My employer has been great about it and even think its gone way too far. They are making some calls for me too.

 

Be careful with these things people. Most I talk to about it, say " Ahh you'll be fine, the FAA won't do anything about it. Sporting events aren't a big deal". Well they seem to be. Don't get caught out like I did.

 

It appears you may have been the straw that broke the camels back. Maybe the TSA is having a rash of violations near that stadium and you’re the test case they’re going to make the example. That’s very aggressive enforcement for just cutting the outside edge of the TFR. In any case I assume there must have been some ATC involvement in the verification of your aircraft’s position with respect to the stadium violation (NOTAM 9/5151, Security, Special Notice, Under 14 CFR 99.7).

 

However, in all cases, we are all responsible for TFR compliance. In order for the NASA waiver of sanctions to apply, your actions must be inadvertent and not deliberate. We know the action was not deliberate, but the inadvertent parts sometimes gets tricky.

 

I’ve seen two guys go in with we did not know as a defense and that information wasn’t readily available. Both receive the 30-day suspension, notwithstanding the NASA waiver of sanctions.

 

Another case was dropped because the game schedule the pilot relied on was incorrect. It was also the same schedule the tower controller was using when he asked the controller for verification of game start time. Game time had moved one hour earlier. He was able to get a letter from the controller and was able to find two other game schedules with incorrect start times. The time change was made two weeks prior. Unless you were following that team, you’re likely to miss that information. His action was inadvertent.

 

Your best bet is to get this thing dropped before it goes any further down the legal rat-hole. Otherwise, you’ll need to prove an affirmative defense that your actions were inadvertent to avoid the 30-day suspension.

 

What's an inadvertent action? Similar case evolving NASA waiver of sanctions:

 

Finally, we have carefully considered respondent’s argument regarding whether he is eligible for a sanction waiver under ASRP. We have previously imposed a strict standard with regard to the four requirements of the ASRP: in order to be eligible for a waiver of sanction, a respondent must show that he or she mailed a report of the incident to NASA in a timely manner and did not have a history of any regulatory violation within the preceding 5 years, nor a history of any criminal offense, accident, or action listed at 49 U.S.C. 44709.

 

Finally, and most importantly for this case, the violation at issue must be inadvertent and not deliberate. With regard to this requirement, we have previously held that a respondent’s exercise of poor judgment, even when the respondent alleges that he or she believed that they chose the safest action, may amount to a deliberate action under the ASRP.

 

Specifically, in Administrator v. Giffin, NTSB Order No. EA-5390 at 11—12 (2008), we held that a respondent’s deviation from an ATC clearance, although allegedly in an attempt to dodge a thunderstorm, was not inadvertent and therefore not eligible for a waiver of sanction under the ASRP.

 

Similarly, in Administrator v. Blumboth inadvertent and not deliberate; in this regard, we quoted the following text from Ferguson v. NTSB and FAA, 678: A person who turns suddenly and spills a cup of coffee has acted inadvertently. On the other hand, a person who places a coffee cup precariously on the edge of table has engaged in purposeful behavior.

 

Even though the person may not deliberately intend the coffee to spill, the conduct is not inadvertent because it involves a purposeful choice between two acts——placing the cup on the edge of the table or balancing it so that it will not spill.

 

Likewise, a pilot acts inadvertently when he flies at an incorrect altitude because he misreads his instruments. But his actions are not inadvertent if he engages in the same conduct because he chooses not to consult his instruments to verify his altitude.

 

In applying this rationale to the instant case, we find that, while respondent’s actions do not appear to have been deliberate, we cannot find that his conduct was inadvertent.

 

He alleged that he sought verification from the ATC tower at Martin State that his transponder was operating properly and squawking the appropriate code, which suggests that he suspected his transponder would be faulty; however, respondent did not consider obtaining a ferry permit, contacting the local FSDO, or cancelling his flight in order to ensure that his transponder was functioning.

 

To the extent that respondent believed that his transponder may have mechanical problems, he should not have operated the aircraft with the transponder in the ADIZ until he was certain that his transponder was operating properly.

 

Moreover, we note that the evidence supports the law judge’s determination that respondent did not prove his affirmative defense that his transponder had malfunctioned; specifically, the testimony of Mr. Barnette was particularly probative, in that Mr. Barnette testified that the radar evidence did not

support respondent’s recollection of the events.

 

In addition, respondent produced no maintenance records to support his assertion that his transponder was faulty. Overall, the evidence does not indicate that respondent’s violation was inadvertent. As such, we do not find that respondent meets the criteria for a waiver of sanction under the ASRP.

 

ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED THAT:

1. Respondent’s appeal is denied;

2. The law judge’s decision is affirmed; and

3. The 30-day suspension of respondent’s commercial pilot certificate shall begin 30 days after the service date indicated on this opinion and order.

 

REF: NTSB Order# EA-5468

Edited by iChris
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Like someone said, it's more of a TSA thing than an FAA thing.

 

Stadium TFR, NOTAM 9/5151, Security, Special Notice, Under 14 CFR 99.7

 

JO FAA Order 7400.8U - Subpart E – National Security Areas

 

A national security area (NSA) consists of airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security of ground facilities. The purpose of such national security areas is to request pilot cooperation by voluntarily avoiding flight through the NSA.

 

When circumstances dictate a need for a greater level of security, flight in an NSA may be temporarily prohibited by regulation under the provisions of 14 CFR Section 99.7, Special Security Instructions. Such prohibitions will be issued by FAA Headquarters and disseminated via the U.S NOTAM System.

 

14 CFR 99.7 Special security instructions.

Each person operating an aircraft in an ADIZ or Defense Area must, in addition to the applicable rules of this part, comply with special security instructions issued by the Administrator in the interest of national security, pursuant to agreement between the FAA and the Department of Defense, or between the FAA and a U.S. Federal security or intelligence agency.

 

PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 99.7, SPECIAL SECURITY INSTRUCTIONS, COMMENCING ONE HOUR BEFORE THE SCHEDULED TIME OF THE EVENT UNTIL ONE HOUR AFTER THE END OF THE EVENT. ALL AIRCRAFT AND PARACHUTE OPERATIONS ARE PROHIBITED WITHIN A 3 NMR UP TO AND INCLUDING 3000 FT AGL OF ANY STADIUM HAVING A SEATING CAPACITY OF 30,000 OR MORE PEOPLE WHERE EITHER A REGULAR OR POST SEASON MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, OR NCAA DIVISION ONE FOOTBALL GAME IS OCCURRING.

Edited by iChris
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The whole inadvertent thing is the problem. You have plenty of guys busting Presidential TFRs and getting suspended because they didn't know it was going on. This doesn't fall under the case of inadvertent. If you knew it was going on because you checked your route of flight for NOTAMs but yet flew through it because you got lost or deviated for weather, then I think they would rule it as inadvertent. Unfortunately in this case, I think the FAA will suspend him because of a 91.103 violation. Got AOPA Legal? I have it and would call immediately in this case.

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Did anyone see the AOPA case where a glider pilot flew 1100 feet AGL over a Nuke plant and the local cops arrested him? The Nuke safety officer "assumed" that Nuke plants have a TFR around them and so did the local cops. After a night or two in jail he was released.....unbelievable.

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Can you prove you did your pre-flight planning? If you can’t, it isn’t inadvertent……

 

I did my flight planning and I knew it was there. I have the voice data from ATC that has me saying I knew about it before they gave me radar contact. We were looking for a substation and I just went a bit too far north and I was in it. We were low level, I obviously couldn't see the stadium and I was not headed towards it.

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