10 mile 'no-fly' zone expected when president-elect is in town

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 15, 2016

Donald Trump's new presidency means flight restrictions over Palm Beach when he's in town.

What will those changes mean for all of us?

WPTV's Alanna Quillen spoke with local aviation expert, David Bjellos, to figure out what we can expect when the president-elect Donald Trump is visiting his home at Mar-A-Lago.

"It's going to be a new era for the aviation population at West Palm Beach," he said.

The FAA is still in talks with the Secret Service on how the airspace will change above what is being dubbed the "Winter White House."

Temporary flight restrictions, or TFR, will be the norm for Palm Beach International Airport. Bjellos said the radius could extend from Mar-A-Lago and head west to U.S. Highway 441.

"The president has a 10 mile TFR that's centered on the top of his head. And everywhere he moves, that TFR moves. If he moves west, the TFR moves with him," said Bjellos. "Every single thing you do right now could be affected and that's why I say right now, we're hoping for some sanity and reasonableness from the Department of Homeland Security."

Could people start seeing planes fly over their homes that they hadn't seen before?

Bjellos said probably not.

"Eighty-percent of the time, this airport operates on an east operation. So everything arriving from the west won't be affected. It will be the departures to the east. I would say primarily it would affect the people who live on Palm Beach and the areas east of here," said Bjellos.

When Trump is visiting, Bjellos says planes will not have to make sudden turns or fly over new neighborhoods.

"Airplanes are just like birds. They take off into the wind and they land into the wind. And that's why we have the runways that are aligned with the winds," he said.

Bjellos showed us a map of a TFR established right now over Manhattan, where Trump has a permanent home. Businesses like tour guide helicopters are grounded in the area until Inauguration Day in January.

"Currently all the tour guide operators in Manhattan have been cut down drastically and we think they are going to be cut down 100% in the future," he said.

Bjellos is worried about a similar rule being established here that would impact those who work out of PBIA, including South Florida Water Management's helicopters. They use three helicopters daily to monitor water quality in the area.

"They fly the most hours of any Bell operator in the world," said Bjellos.

Even WPTV's own Newschopper 5 could be affected.

"Keep in mind that the people who own these aircraft here are the business tycoons of america and the world, that's why they have homes on palm beach they're going to want to fly their aircraft," said Bjellos.

Commissioner Steve Abram was briefed on Monday of the lawsuit that is now dropped between Trump and the county. He is keeping an eye on airspace the situation.

"We also have other private service airports in the county, Boca Raton and some in the North County. And maybe some of the traffic can go there," he said.

But Bjellos is hopeful homeland security will be reasonable with rules and regulations for the airspace over Palm Beach.

"We're keeping cautious optimism to make sure that we have a successful outcome for us," he said.

The airport's southeast runway, which isn't used as much, could be used more frequently as no fly zones become more common in Palm Beach.

Keep in mind, the no fly zones will not restrict the work of Palm Beach County law enforcement or medical personnel, which are exempt.