The National Academies

ACRP 02-86 [Pending]

Understanding Impacts to Airports from Temporary Flight Restrictions

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Contract Time: 14 months
Staff Responsibility: Marci A. Greenberger


Temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) are put in place to provide security for VIP movements and other special events. TFRs can have an impact on not only the airport directly affected, but also airports whose airspace is not restricted. For example, a Super Bowl that results in a TFR over another facility (not an airport) would have a regional impact on the nearby airports. Any TFR or restricted airspace can have an impact on users of the airports that can’t easily be quantified, such as the user’s experience. Even if the airport doesn’t experience frequent TFRs, there can be real financial and other ramifications from the disruption to normal operations. 
While the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has processes in place to ensure that private aircraft can traverse TFRs to get to affected airports, it’s something that must be planned and coordinated well in advance. As a result pilots may avoid them. If TFRs occur frequently at an airport due to recurring VIP trips, this may cause pilots/aircraft owners to permanently find alternative airports to base or operate their aircraft. This has additional financial ramifications in lost future revenue to airports from hangar/tie-down fees and fuel sales, and other business interruptions.
TFRs have the biggest impact on general aviation activity and general aviation airports. For those airports that frequently have to operate with a TFR, especially if it occurs during an airport’s busy season, there can be a significant impact on the airport’s financials, as well as on other businesses that operate there (e.g., flight schools, banner towing). These financial ramifications, and increased costs that may need to be expended, are not reimbursed by any entity and can affect an airport’s ability to be self-sufficient. With conflicting grant assurances, this can be a difficult balance for the airport to maintain.
Currently, there is no research that has identified all of the potential implications, including financial, from TFRs and other restricted airspace.
The objective of this research is to identify the financial and other ramifications of a temporary flight restriction, or other airspace restrictions, at or near an airport.
The report should include, at a minimum:
        Types of airspace restrictions.
        List of potential quantitative impacts to the airport from a TFR (e.g., parking, fuel sales).
        Provide distinctions, if any, for VIP TFRs.
        Consider regional impacts (that may include airports affected by increased traffic).
•     List of qualitative impacts on airport stakeholders including opportunity costs of accommodating the TFR.
•     Range of financial ramifications for each potential impact based on airport activity level and other characteristics.
•     An evaluation methodology that can be applied at all sizes of airports to determine their financial ramification.
•     Possible mitigations that affected airports can employ to reduce negative impacts.
•     Summary of applicable regulations and the appropriate administering agency.
•     Relevant FAA grant assurances.
Status:  Panel is reviewing the proposals.

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