Different TFRs – Flight Restrictions for Good Reason

Let’s get into WHY the different TFRs are issued so you can understand where they can be located. The different TFRs can be somewhat clumped into 4 groups: disasters, special events, special people, or other. Keep in mind this is just a quick way to conceptualize things because there are exceptions. There are times where certain regulations are used as justification for a TFR around odd things to “get the job done.”  For example, 99.7 is used to issue TFRs around the Pope and also as the justification for an FDC notam restricting speeds to 180 knots indicated airspace around the DC VOR. Another is where 91.137 (TFR in vicinity of a disaster) is issued prior to planned mine blasting. Sometimes 99.7 security TFR’s are done on top of sporting events.


Section 91.137
, Temporary Flight Restrictions in the Vicinity of Disaster/Hazard Areas 

There are three subsections to this section. If you are wanting to operate in a TFR, it important to know which regulation was cited because each has different restrictions on who can operate in that type of TFR. Examples of these disasters would be: toxic gas leaks or spills; fumes from flammable agents which, if fanned by rotor or propeller wash could endanger persons or property on the surface, or if entered by an aircraft could endanger persons or property in the air; volcanic eruptions that could endanger airborne aircraft and occupants; nuclear accident or incident; hijackings; wildfire suppression; and aircraft relief activities following a disaster (e.g., earthquake, tidal wave, flood, hurricane, etc.).

Section 91.138, Temporary Flight Restrictions in National Disaster Areas in the State of Hawaii.

TFRs issued under section 91.138 address a determination that an inhabited area within a declared national disaster area in the State of Hawaii needs protection for humanitarian reasons.

Pro Tip: It is easy to tell these two types of TFRs apart because one smells like coconuts. Another tip is you could look for a fire-fighter in a hula skirt.



Special Events:

Section 91.145, Management of Aircraft Operations in the Vicinity of Aerial Demonstrations and Major Sporting Events. Major Sporting events – Congress mandated flight restrictions over specific major sporting events through Public Law 108-7 as amended by Public Law 108-199. These events are: Major League Baseball, National Football League, NCAA Division One Football games, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series races. FAA has issued a standing NOTAM detailing the restrictions and conditions that apply to those events. For sporting events not covered by the Congressional mandate, the FAA will consider requests submitted based on the criteria listed in 14 CFR 91.145(b).

four airplanes in formation on airshow

Section 91.145(a) says:

These demonstrations and events may include:

(1) United States Naval Flight Demonstration Team (Blue Angels);

(2) United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron (Thunderbirds);

(3) United States Army Parachute Team (Golden Knights);

(4) Summer/Winter Olympic Games;

(5) Annual Tournament of Roses Football Game;

(6) World Cup Soccer;

(7) Major League Baseball All-Star Game;

(8) World Series;

(9) Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta;

(10) Sandia Classic Hang Gliding Competition;

(11) Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. 

Keep in mind that FDC NOTAM 4/3621  issued under 99.7 is applicable to a “3NM [radius] up to and 3000ft AGL of any stadium having a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people where either a regular or post season Major League Baseball, National Football League, or NCAA division one football game is occurring. This NOTAM also applies to Nascar Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series races excluding qualifying and pre-race events.”


Special People:

Section 91.141, Flight Restrictions in the Proximity of the Presidential and Other Parties. TFRs issued under section 91.141 address security with respect to airspace over presidential and other parties. Specifically, no person may operate an aircraft over or in the vicinity of any area to be visited or traveled by the President, the Vice President, or other public figures contrary to the restrictions established by the FAA and published in a NOTAM.

Section 99.7, Special Security Instructions. The FAA, in consultation with the Department of Defense, or other Federal security/intelligence agencies may issue special security instructions to address situations determined to be detrimental to the interests of national defense.  This TFR is also used for special foreign dignitaries such as the Queen or the Pope. It is also used to augment restrictions near major events under FDC NOTAM 4/3621. (Mentioned above).

Interestingly, the FAA has used Section 99.7 to create over 500 drone specific TFRs across the country at military facilities and bases. You can view them here. It is interesting because manned aircraft can fly over many of those locations but unmanned aircraft cannot. The idea is that drones can fly close to the ground while manned aircraft would be limited to minimum safe altitude.


Section 91.139, Emergency Air Traffic Rules.  This TFR is issued if the Administrator determines that an emergency condition exists, or will exist, relating to the FAA’s ability to operate the air traffic control system and during which normal flight operations cannot be conducted consistent with the required levels of safety and efficiency. The Administrator issues an immediately effective air traffic rule or regulation in response to that emergency condition. In other words, September 11th.  “It was no error for the Administrator to conclude on the morning of September 11th that the terrorists’ attacks and possible unknown attacks to come might pose such a condition.” Blakey v. Somerville, EA-5086, NTSB (March 31, 2004). See also SCANTANA.


Section 91.143
, Flight Limitation in the Proximity of Space Flight Operations. These are typically in Florida, New Mexico, and California. TFRs issued under section 91.143 are used to
segregate nonparticipating aircraft from space flight operations to prevent collision. Specifically, no person may operate an aircraft of U.S. registry, or pilot an aircraft under the authority of an airman certificate issued by the FAA within areas designated in a NOTAM for space flight operations except when authorized by ATC, or the proponent for the flight operation.  TFRs issued under section 91.143 may be issued for Class 2 high-power rockets and Class 3 advanced high-power rockets. These rockets can, very quickly, fly high into the airspace and have the potential to significantly interfere with air traffic. These TFRs cannot be issued for Class 1 amateur rockets because they cannot affect air traffic when operated in accordance with FAA regulations. Sometimes a 99.7 TFR was put around a Space Shuttle launch.

Section 91.144, Abnormally High Barometric Pressure Conditions. The aneroid barometers in aircraft can only work in certain conditions.

If you flew into a TFR or need a waiver to operate within a TFR (i.e., sport event filming), contact me. 

I hope these articles have helped you understand more about TFRs so you can pass your knowledge exams and fly safely and competently in the national airspace. In the unfortunate situation that you violate a TFR, it is extremely important to work with a competent aviation attorney for help to present the best defense. Contact Rupprecht Law, P.A. today if you are needing help.