As colder temperatures begin infiltrating the northern portions of the U.S., aviation businesses in Florida are again bracing for the Potus Mar-a-Lago TFR, an airspace restriction certain to freeze out some companies in the Palm Beach area. The TFR is effective whenever President Trump visits his Mar-a-Lago estate and takes aim at both Palm Beach International and Lantana, a nearby GA airport.
When the Notam is active, all air operations, with a few exceptions, are prohibited within the 10-mile inner circle ring centered on PBI. Certain specified GA operations will be allowed in the TFR’s outer ring extending to 30 nm from PBI including those used for agricultural work, banner towing, non-sightseeing seaplane and blimp flights. All must strictly adhere to the specific demands outlined in the Notam.
The Potus TFR requires operators, other than those excepted, to clear through a designated gateway airport before departing for PBI and to complete a security screening at PBI before departure. Gateway airports in the north include New York’s Westchester County and Teterboro NJ, as well as Washington Dulles International. Orlando International and Fort Lauderdale International serve as Florida’s gateway airports.
Exceptions to the prohibited aircraft list include military aircraft supporting the president, law enforcement, air ambulance and firefighting operations, as well as scheduled passenger and cargo flights already operating under a TSA standard security program. The FAA and the U.S. Secret Service created a 38-page guide – the PBI Playbook – to answer many of the operational questions expected to pop up.
During the president’s regular use of PBI and the erection of the Mar-a-Lago TFR earlier this year, nearly all GA traffic at Lantana ground to a halt. Flight training, as well as most GA business operations, were simply prohibited causing significant financial heartburn to the eight companies that call LNA home. Some arrivals of pre-screened aircraft were allowed however. Attempts earlier this year to create exceptions for LNA operations proved unsuccessful.