Pilots in the Pacific Northwest are being inundated with information about the Temporary Flight Restrictions stemming from the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic games in Vancouver, British Columbia.
For safety and security reasons, Air Transport Canada has established TFRs that will extend into the United States for the duration of the games (Feb. 12-28). The TFR consists of two conjoined rings within a 30 nautical mile radius of the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and the Whistler’s Athlete’s Village. Within in these rings there will be three Olympic Control Areas (OCA). Within the OCAs there will be seven Olympic Restricted Areas. The three U.S. airports in the TFR are Point Roberts (1RL), Meadow Mist (WN35) and Waldronaire Airport (90WA).
Air operations within these areas will be limited to emergency security and authorized essential service and media aircraft only.
Pilots who violate the TFR will be intercepted by military aircraft. In order to avoid this, both Air Transport Canada and the FAA have embarked on an extensive public information campaign to inform pilots of the special procedures.
Developing procedures for the Olympics was not a quick process, notes Minard Thompson, Jr., the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) coordinator for the Seattle Flight Standards District office.
“The 2010 Olympic TFR plan was developed and refined over a period of two months,” he said. “It was immediately recognized that our primary responsibility was to educate the pilots in the Northwest Mountain Region, which encompasses the states of Washingtion, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. There are over 66,000 registered airmen in these states — each having the potential for flying to the Vancouver, B.C., area during the Olympics. Additionally, other airmen from all over the United States needed to have the information available to them if they were planning on visiting the British Columbia area during the Olympics.”
Reaching all those pilots is a challenge, he admits. The FAA is attempting to do so by a combination of online announcements and expanded educational briefings held around the Pacific Northwest.
“The FAASTeam utilized its e-mail network and sent out over 250,000 e-mails in one day,” he said. “Along with our other contacts obtained through the planning process for the Olympic airspace restrictions, we probably doubled that number of e-mails in one day. Our contacts led to other organizations’ e-mail lists and it would be easy to estimate that over 750,000 e-mails were sent in the course of a couple days to pilots all over the United States. Our e-mails led to newspaper and television news articles as well.
“In addition, a color poster was developed by Johanna Forkner from the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization Operations Support Group, and we have started distribution of the posters to many FBOs in the Northwest Mountain Region,” he continued.
“If you Google ‘2010 Olympic Airspace restriction’ you come up with 126,000 hits on places to go for information about the TFR and Canada’s Class F airspace restrictions,” he concluded.
For more information, including a schedule of briefings: FAASafety.gov.