Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Officials work to reduce air violations over conventions

Check NOTAMS, Fly Informed! A CONR poster depicts the intercept of a private aircraft to remind pilots of the temporary flight restrictions in effect during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. CONR distributed the posters to fixed-base operators within 100 nautical miles of Denver and Minneapolis/St. Paul to reminD pilots to "Check NOTAMS, Fly Informed!" (U.S. Air Force photo)

by Mike Strickler, 1st Air Force (AFNORTH/CONR) Public Affairs

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- The Continental U.S. NORAD Region is partnering with the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Aviation Administration to help reduce airspace violations near Denver and Minneapolis/St. Paul during the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Public and private airports, known as fixed-base operators, within 100 miles of the convention sites will display CONR posters reminding aviators of FAA-issued temporary flight restrictions, or TFRs, in effect from Aug. 25 through Sept. 4.

CONR fighters will also be on alert during that period to enforce the special airspace if needed.

CONR, the U.S. region of NORAD's North American triad, is responsible for airspace defense over the contiguous U.S., and supports special events like the Super Bowl, Major League Baseball playoffs, and the Olympics. As the national political conventions bring large crowds and national leaders to their venues, CONR and its federal partners take special security measures to protect the airspace around them.

While civilian law enforcement agencies shoulder the primary responsibility for event security, the U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency for bringing federal support to the conventions. In that role, they work closely with the FAA to define necessary airspace restrictions, and with CONR to identify the air defense needed to patrol them.

For the 2008 conventions, CONR assets will be in place near Denver and Minneapolis/St. Paul respective homes to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

To help reduce potential TFR violations CONR launched an outreach effort aimed at general aviators. Posters depicting an intercept by military aircraft steer pilots to FAA-posted Notices to Airman, or NOTAMs, available on the FAA Web site. These NOTAMs list the latest information on restricted airspace, including projected TFRs and the times and coordinates where they are in effect.

The FAA requires pilots to check NOTAMs prior to flying anywhere in the U.S.
According to Major General Hank Morrow, CONR commander, the outreach and air defense measures will work together in providing Americans the greatest level of support during the election season.

"CONR serves as part of a layered defense that protects our national airspace every day, so these are core missions that we and our federal partners are undertaking to support our national conventions," he said. "It's a noble duty to be able to protect these events as our citizens participate in the traditional democratic processes that define us as Americans."

NORAD has conducted air patrols throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle -- the command's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.