http://www.flightinternational.com

Mexican border exclusions anger private flyers
General aviation groups are concerned about a year-long temporary flight restriction (TFR) that came into effect along the US border with Mexico on 24 January to prevent collisions with unmanned air vehicles on surveillance missions.

The 550km (300nm)-long, 30km-wide corridor along the US-Mexico border in Arizona and New Mexico is associated with use of the General Atomics Predator B unmanned aircraft by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agency took delivery of its first Predator in September and has exercised an option for a second to be delivered by mid-year.

Established by the Federal Aviation Administration, the TFR is limited to altitudes between 12,000ft and 14,000ft (3,660-4,270m) and is in effect between 17:00 and 07:00. Aircraft within the restricted area are required to operate under instrument flight rules (IFR), maintaining two-way communication with air traffic control and transmitting a discrete transponder code.

The CBP’s Predator is based at Muni-Libby airfield on Ft Huachuca in Arizona. General Atomics says the UAV is allowed to fly within Libby’s restricted airspace without filing an IFR flight plan. “Outside that airspace, and within the confines of where our CoA [certificate of authorisation] allows us to fly along the border, the FAA requires that we file an IFR flight plan 2h in advance,