Ottawa TFR for President Obama's visit

Four and a half years ago I complained about a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) for President Bush’s visit to Ottawa. I like President Obama a lot better than I liked President Bush — and I’m very excited that he’s making his first foreign visit as president to my city — but out of fairness, I still have to complain about the TFR.

You see, a TFR isn’t a very Canadian thing. It’s not that we don’t know what fear and terrorism are — around 1970, bombs were going off in Montreal, and a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped and murdered; even more recently, the Iranian embassy here in Ottawa was bombed; 24 of the 9/11 victims were Canadian; and the police in Toronto recently arrested a bunch of bozos who were talking big about doing terrorist stuff, though it’s unlikely they were smart or motivated enough to pull anything off. It’s just that, like the British with their IRA crisis, at least some of us have learned that heavy-handed security doesn’t actually solve problems; instead, it makes people more scared, and when people are scared, the world becomes more dangerous for everyone.

So we don’t shut down hundreds of square miles of airspace for our amusement parks, our Prime Minister, or even our Queen. In fact, our Prime Minister sometimes walks his kids to school. Before 9/11, you could essentially fly right past the windows of Parliament; now, you have to fly 1,000 ft AGL over Parliament, or 0.5 nm away, but you can still fly pretty close (and even those restrictions don’t apply if you’re landing or taking off IFR under ATC control).

‘Nuff said. Here’s the TFR for the president’s visit next week:

CYOW DESIGNATED AIRSPACE HANDBOOK IS AMENDED AS FOLLOWS:
1) CYR537, PARLIAMENT HILL ON, REVISED TO READ: CLASS F
RESTRICTED AIRSPACE IS ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE AREA BOUNDED
BY 12 NM RADIUS OF 452529N 754159W (PARLIAMENT HILL),
SFC TO 12,500 FT MSL. NO PERSON SHALL OPR AN ACFT WITHIN THE
AREA EXC FOR STATE ACFT, MIL, POLICE OPS, REGULARLY SKED
COMMERCIAL PASSENGER AND CARGO CARRIERS, EMERG OR HUMANITARIAN
FLT AUTH BY ATC.  FOR AUTH ACFT OPR WITHIN CYR537,
THE OPR RULES FOR EXISTING AIRSPACE APPLY.
DLA MAY BE ANTICIPATED.
0902191600/0902192030.
2) CYR539, OTTAWA ON, CLASS F RESTRICTED AIRSPACE IS ESTABLISHED
WITHIN THE AREA BOUNDED BY 10 NM RADIUS OF 451921N 754009W
(OTTAWA/MACDONALD-CARTIER INTL), SFC TO 12,500 FT MSL. NO PERSON
SHALL OPR AN ACFT WITHIN THE AREA DESCRIBED EXC FOR STATE ACFT,
MIL, POLICE OPS, EMERG OR HUMANITARIAN FLT AUTH BY RCMP AT
1-888-420-7958.  FOR AUTH ACFT OPR WITHIN CYR539, THE OPR RULES
FOR EXISTING AIRSPACE APPLY.
0902191515/0902191545 AND 0902192210/0902192255.
3) CYR540, OTTAWA ON, CLASS F RESTRICTED AIRSPACE IS ESTABLISHED
WITHIN THE AREA BOUNDED BY 30 NM RADIUS OF 451921N 754009W
(OTTAWA/MACDONALD-CARTIER INTL) EXCLUDING CYR537 AND CYR539.
SFC TO 12,500 FT MSL. NO PERSON SHALL OPR AN ACFT WITHIN THE AREA
DESCRIBED EXC FOR STATE ACFT, MIL AND POLICE OPS, REGULARLY SKED
COMMERCIAL PASSENGER, CARGO CARRIERS, EMERG OR HUMANITARIAN FLT.
FOR MIL AND POLICE ACFT OPR WITHIN CYR540, THE OPR RULES FOR
CLASS G AIRSPACE APPLY. FOR OTHER ACFT LISTED ABV, OPR WITHIN
CYR540, THE RULES FOR EXISTING AIRSPACE APPLY.
OPR PROC FOR ALL OTHER ACFT ENTERING, EXITING OR TRANSITING
THROUGH CYR540 AUTH BY ATC SHALL:
-PRIOR TO FLT PLANNING INTO CYR540, HAVE AN AUTH NUMBER OBTAINED
FM THE RCMP 613-949-1737, 18 FEB 1300 TO 2100,
OR 1-888-420-7958, 19 FEB 1200 TO 2300. THE REQUEST WILL INCLUDE
THE NAMES AND BIRTHDAYS OF ALL PERSONS ONBOARD.
-HAVE FLT PLAN WITH AUTH NUMBER IN THE REMARKS SECTION IN ORDER
TO OBTAIN CLEARANCE TO OPR WITHIN CYR540.
-BE ON AN ACTIVE IFR OR VFR FLT PLAN WITH A DISCRETE CODE
ASSIGNED BY ATC 1-866-WXBRIEF AND SQUAWK THE DISCRETE CODE PRIOR
TO DEP AND AT ALL TIMES WHILE OPR WITHIN CYR540.
-REMAIN IN TWO-WAY RDO COM AT ALL TIMES WITH ATC.
-ACFT DEP FM AN AD WITHIN CYR540, MUST ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN,
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, TWO WAY RDO COM WITH ATC.
-PRIOR TO ENTERING CYR540, ACFT MUST ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN TWO
WAY RDO COM WITH OTTAWA TML 127.7.
-ACFT ARR OR DEP LOCAL AD WITHIN CYR540 AND AUTH ACFT TRANSITING
THROUGH CYR540, REQUIRE AUTH FM OTTAWA TML FRQ 127.7.
DLA MAY BE ANTICIPATED.
0902191500 TIL 0902192300

Basically, unless you’re security, an airline, or medevac, don’t fly within 30nm of the Ottawa Airport from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm next Thursday below 12,500 ft MSL, period. That’s actually harsher than the typical presidential TFR in the U.S.

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About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
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7 Responses to Ottawa TFR for President Obama's visit

  1. viennatech says:

    David, Say you were in Peterboro that morning and filed an IFR plan to Ottawa. Would it get rejected prior to filing/take off or would you be allowed in as you would be flying under ATC control with a provided T-code? If you were flying out of Peterboro VFR and decided you wanted to get into Ottawa, it would simply be denied as you contacted terminal? It’s obvious to us on the ground at CYRO that we cannot take off, but it seems less obvious to me what happens enroute.
    Thanks for another great blog post!

  2. david says:

    viennatech:

    I’ve never dealt with this stuff in Canada. I’ve flown IFR into a presidential TFR in NYC, and into the security area around DC, but both times flights were allowed into airports more than about 5 nm from the president, so it was no big deal — just a lot quieter without all the VFRs. For an IFR flight, the only difference was the lost-comms procedure (turn around and exit, instead of proceeding to your destination), but the VFRs had all kinds of special procedures to follow (special codes, entry/exit points, etc.), so most of them just didn’t bother.

    My guess is that you’re right: Ottawa Terminal would deny you entry. Hopefully, you would have found out when you tried to file your VFR flight plan from Peterborough to Ottawa, but if you were on an itinerary and didn’t call for a briefing or look at NOTAMs, you’d have a nasty surprise in the air.

  3. SkyWayMan says:

    I agree with you on complaining about them regardless of whether it’s for Bush or Obama. The Secret Service felt after 9/11 they needed to increase the amount of airspace restrictions for the President. Before this it was typically only a 1 nautical mile radius in controlled airspace or 5 nautical miles in uncontrolled airspace. These newer restrictions were somewhat tolerable under Bush with the very obvious exception of DC airspace being forever ruined. Usually when Bush went somewhere you only had to endure these for a few hours to a brief overnight. If he went somewhere for longer then that it was usually the ranch. Last weekend Obama was at home in Chicago and the airspace was locked down all weekend. Chicago is much worse then any of these other long term areas. No one who values their life is going to fly a single engine plane out over Lake Michigan to get around the restricted area. The only positive things I can say is they appear to be allowing some transit in the outer area from 10 nm to 30 nm out. That was previously limited to arriving or departing airports in that area only. The other was Midway was in the inner no fly zone but available as a destination if you filed a passenger manifest 72 hours ahead of time and were screened at a gateway airport first. I don’t think these were announced more then 72 hours before Friday 2/13/09 when he landed but at least it wasn’t a total ban. Maybe we can look forward to the inner DC-3 airports being usable again with a similar restriction. Right now you have to travel to DC first and be vetted by various agencies. Although after almost 10 years of these restrictions Washington Executive Airport appears to have a deal in place to turn into a shopping mall in 2011. Another thing I’ve noticed though with Obama is the inner no fly zone has frequently been 11 or 12 nm radius instead of the normal 10 for Bush. I’m in Phoenix where Obama was prior to visiting Ottawa. He had a 12 nm no fly zone radius here, just large enough to close Scottsdale and Deer Valley Airports. Deer Valley recently became the busiest GA airport in the world overtaking Van Nuys. The other thing was the TFR notices were issued at least 4 times with various times and Air Force One landed at least 40 minutes before the latest NOTAM copy I had said the restrictions were to be in place. Thank goodness I didn’t try to fly anywhere in that last hour the NOTAM said I had. I never saw that happen with Bush, to be fair it may have and I missed it though. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of bad things to come. If you want the airspace locked down that tight then please stick to the schedule.

  4. Jim says:

    I work for a company that has US operations (actually, our nominal head office is in Washington because if you want to sell to the US Government then you have to look like a US company – even all that we have down there are two execs and bunch of sales dudes – and so we go through the required theatre).

    I have great fun taunting our US employees. The Secret Service has 5,000 agents working on the Presidential detail. He lives within a bubble. His car carries a supply of his blood. Buildings, airspace, and parts of cities go into lockdown when the President is coming.

    In Canada, you can walk up to the front door of the Prime Minister’s house on Sussex Drive at Halloween to go Trick or Treat. When he goes out&around, he is accompanied by two (2) mounties (no, I didn’t omit any zeroes after that). When he goes to a hockey game he sits in the stands with everyone else – and nobody dumps beer on him even though he is a Toronto fan. Heck, I’ve cooked hot dogs for the Prime Minister (when I worked at Scotiabank place) and poured him a beer, and nobody searched the kitchen for arsenic ahead of time.

    While I’m pleased that Obama made his first foreign trip to Canada, restoring a long-standing tradition that Ted Baxter shunned when he went to Mexico for his first foreign trip, the disruption to the city is so monumental that I hope he doesn’t come too often. But if he doesw, tell him to swing around and I’ll BBQ a few hot dogs for him, accompanied by a real beer (not that American sex-in-a-canoe stuff).

  5. Paul Tomblin says:

    Another thing about the accessibility of the Prime Minister versus the President: Canoe and Kayak magazine had an interview with Paul Mason, son of canoeing and film making legend Bill Mason. He says that when he was 15, he got tired of yelling at the guy in the back of his canoe that from now on he was going to bring his own friends, since he was tired of paddling with his dad’s friends. The guy he was yelling at was Pierre Trudeau, the incumbent PM.

  6. Fred W says:

    Sorry guys, but the reason you don’t need that much security is because no one thinks it sufficiently important enough to whatever their cause du jour to kill your PM.
    Ah, Canada … lovely simple Canada.

  7. Paul Tomblin says:

    Sorry, Fred, but the reason nobody wants to kill the PM is because we’re a democracy, not a elected monarchy. Change the PM and it’s still the same party in power.

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