H.R. 4 Could Help Airports Crippled by Presidential TFRs

Air Force One is the official presidential aircraft. USAF

Buried deep within the House's recent version of the FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4) sits section 587, innocuously titled "report," language aimed at providing some financial relief to industry businesses affected by the dozens of TFR-induced shutdowns of Florida's Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana (LNA). The relief only happens, of course, if the language in section 587 survives through the Senate's version to reach the President's desk. Both Solberg Airport and Somerset Airport in New Jersey are similarly affected by the TFR problem.

The H.R. 4 bipartisan amendment was created by Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla), with the support of Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), and will require the FAA to study and recommend procedures allowing properly vetted pilots to fly during presidential temporary flight restrictions when Air Force One is sitting on the ramp at nearby Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) six miles north or Morristown Airport in New Jersey. The Secret Service has never before allowed such an exception. A House Appropriations Subcommittee has also earmarked $3.5 million in potential reimbursement funding to cover the losses some airport businesses have incurred at airports like Lantana’s, sitting inside the Presidential TFR.

Located just inside a Presidential No-Fly Zone whenever the Commander-in-Chief visits his Mar a Lago property in West Palm Beach, the tiny three-runway LNA airport has been hit hard economically since Donald Trump became president. AOPA notes that Trump spent a combined 84 days at his residences in New Jersey and Florida last year.

Home to a single FBO, the non-controlled Florida airport, a reliever to nearby PBI, serves only aircraft weighing less than 12,500 pounds and not jets. But LNA is also home to a handful of other active businesses, including a propeller shop, three maintenance facilities, one focused on helicopters, an avionics shop and four flight training schools. During Presidential visits, all work at Lantana’s tenant facilities grinds to a halt, just as it has for the past 16 months since Trump became president.

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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