No pilot wants to find himself flying into a temporary flight restriction (TFR).  TFRs can pop up at a moment’s notice because they often include presidential or VIP movement in the skies.  In other words, if President Obama decides to visit Princeton, New Jersey, then a presidential TFR will be implemented.  And for obvious security reasons, these TFRs are not posted in advance.

A TFR violation almost always means a certificate suspension for at least fifteen days, and often more.  While this may seem trivial, the suspension becomes part a pilot’s record and can often hamper a pilot’s career aspirations.  Pilots aspiring to fly private jets for the elite companies will find it almost impossible to get a job if they have a certificate suspension on their record.  And forget about the big airlines.

Many pilots have found themselves innocently navigating the skies when suddenly an F-16 is sitting on its wing ready to escort them to the nearest runway.  This is not a pleasant experience because it only marks the beginning of a painful process that often includes a Secret Service agent waiting as you disembark the aircraft.  Moreover, a TFR violation almost definitely requires meeting with an FAA enforcement attorney to answer the charges.

Avoiding these TFRs are very easy through proper flight planning, which must begin with a timely check of the notices to airman (NOTAMS).  Because this mistake is easily avoided, the FAA maintains a zero tolerance policy, so no matter what legitimate excuse a pilot may offer or think he or she may have, chances are that his or her certificate will be suspended.

As mentioned above, pilots must answer to an FAA enforcement attorney.  This means, at a minimum, responding to the Notice of Proposed Enforcement Action that the pilot receives and potentially ending up at a judicial hearing in front of a National Transportation Safety Board judge.  This process can be confusing, so you should consult with an attorney who has experience with these matters.