Proposed Security Plans Could Ground Chicago Flights

Secret Service Declines Comment on Plans

With the election of Barack Obama, the airspace over the city and suburbs could change dramatically.

NBC5's Phil Rogers, who himself is a pilot, said the potential new flight restrictions have some pilots worried about the new restrictions.

Jim Harvilchuck, president of Bolingbrook-based A&M Aviation, said he fears that the security restrictions currently used for President George W. Bush would be implemented in Chicago, which would severely restrict general aircraft.

"There will be a lot of delays and things will be rather difficult," he said.

The Secret Service declined to say how they would handle aviation security in the Chicago area, Rogers reported, but there is a model, which is how security is handled currently at the presidential retreat in Crawford, Texas.

Using that model, that would mean a three-mile no-fly zone around the Obama's home in Hyde Park, whether or not the president was there, and that would expand to a 10-mile no-fly zone when he is home. In a 30-mile ring, specific flight plans would be required, which are currently not required. That would severely restrict operations at a multitude of area airports.

"To make this 10 miles no-fly, and then 30 miles with all kinds of restrictions? It's just too much," said Phil Boyer of the Maryland-based Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations.

Especially worrisome is flight instruction, as it would be severely curtailed, Rogers reported. Flight instructors only get paid when they fly.

Another element is that currently, pilots operating under what are known as visual flight rules. That means pilots just take off ad fly at many Chicagoland airports. Flight plans require conversations with Chicago approach, which means workloads for Chicago controllers would skyrocket if the security plan goes into effect.

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