Operators of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have been urged to respect temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) over and around wildfires after recent incidents in San Bernardino National Forest in California halted the airborne firefighting operations for some time, said The Know Before You Fly campaign.
“There should be no traffic within the boundaries of a TFR – manned or unmanned – except for those supporting the operations,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
He said, “Violating restricted airspace has serious consequences. As more and more people operate UAS, newcomers may not know how to check for TFRs or even that they have a responsibility to do so. It is our hope to make these common-sense guidelines, including where one should and shouldn’t fly, more accessible to people increasingly taking to the skies.”
Authorities issue TFRs for emergencies like wildfire suppression or other hazardous conditions so that first responders can do their jobs unimpeded and without danger to their aerial support.
Violating a TFR can also ennger the safety of the operation, and in some cases may ground search and rescue crews until the airspace is cleared, allowing the wildfire to spread.
But TFRS do not just apply to wildfires; they also can and should be applied to major events ranging from concerts to NASCAR races to the Super Bowl, over which model aircraft flights and unmanned aircraft operations are generally restricted.
“TFRs are put in place for a reason,” said Dave Mathewson, executive director of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). “Regardless of whether they are over large crowds, emergency situations or stadium events such as Major League Baseball games, it is important that people respect these restrictions to ensure the safety of all involved. TFRs often pop up on short notice, so I encourage model aircraft and UAS operators to check the FAA website before taking the skies.”
To check for TFRs in your area, visit the FAA TFR list at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.