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Back-to-Back Presidential TFRs at PBI Test New Gateway Screening Procedures
Feb. 9, 2017
Soon after the first President of the United States (POTUS) TFR was put in place at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) on Feb. 3-6 for President Donald Trump’s visit to his nearby Mar-a-Lago residence, a second TFR was issued for Feb. 10-12 for a Mar-a-Lago meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe.
Initial reports from aircraft operators for the first POTUS TFR at PBI indicate the process was smooth and efficient, said NBAA’s Vice President of Regulatory and International Affairs Doug Carr. Carr, along with NBAA Senior Manager of Security and Facilitation Sarah Wolf, were at the airport to observe business aircraft operations firsthand and receive feedback from members.
The POTUS TFR requires operators to clear through a designated gateway airport before departing for PBI and to complete security screening at PBI before departure. Carr and Wolf reported that operators who used the gateway program experienced flexible TSA processes and had few complaints.
All PBI FBOs – including Atlantic Aviation, Jet Aviation and Signature Flight Support, plus the NetJets facility – have screening capabilities during a POTUS TFR. The TFR began and ended at the times published in the NOTAM, making the process predictable.
“I strongly encourage operators with a need to travel to the West Palm Beach area during a POTUS TFR to consider utilizing the gateway program,” said Carr. “Operators that went through the process last weekend found minimal disruption and courteous, respectful screening personnel. Once you experience it for yourself and see how little time the gateway process adds to the trip, you might find a reasonable balance between an extra stop and total journey costs.”.
“We appreciate the TSA’s professionalism and efficiency in managing the POTUS TFR and encourage operators who use the gateway process to provide NBAA with feedback on their experience,” he added.
However, Carr noted that some issues remain.
In a survey of NBAA members about the impact of the Feb. 3-6 TFR, more than half of respondents said that they changed their travel plans to fly to alternate airports in South Florida. More than a third of respondents canceled their planned trips entirely.
“NBAA continues to be concerned about the TFR’s significant impact on local businesses,” he said. “The FBOs and all businesses supporting business aviation were significantly affected this weekend, during the busiest season of the year. We continue to explore other options that would facilitate greater access to PBI while reducing the burden of flying through a gateway airport.”
Members with specific concerns may contact Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-9000.