FORT MYERS, Fla. (WFLA) — The Federal Aviation Administration has temporarily restricted airspace in parts of Florida as recovery efforts are underway following Hurricane Ian.

The airspace over Fort Myers has been temporarily closed through Friday due to hazards. Notes from the FAA say the restricted zone was set up to “provide a safe environment for Hurricane Ian search.”

The FAA says “No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM [Notice to Air Missions] (except as described).”

NOTAM : 2/6041     Location : FT MYERS, FL, Thursday, September 29, 2022 through Friday, September 30, 2022 UTC (Image: Federal Aviation Administration)

Additional documentation specifies that the restriction applies to all flights, including unmanned aircraft. “All flight ops, including unmanned aircraft system ops, are prohibited within the identified TFR airspace except for those meeting at least one of the following requirements.”

FAA listed the flight requirements as:

  • The flight operation is being conducted by a federal, state, and local government agency or the U.S. Military (including National Guard) in active support of disaster response and recovery efforts and under the direction of the Florida Air Operations Branch
  • Temporary flight and air missions may include public and contracted private aircraft carrying out search and rescue, air ambulance, incident awareness assessment, law enforcement, critical supply logistics, evacuation, and other vital flights
  • Flight operation is being conducted by a UAS and obtains authorization to access this TFR airspace by contacting the FAA System Operations Support Center before starting operations.
  • FAA SOSC can be contacted at 202-267-8276
  • UAS operations may include private sector flights, but must support response or recovery activities
  • Flight operations are carrying law enforcement officials or is operating under an approved flight plan from air traffic control
  • Flight operation is carrying “accredited media and prior to entering the identified TFR airspace, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FAA facility.”

Pilots are urged to “exercise extreme caution due to the numerous flight operations engaged in disaster response and recovery efforts,” and are encouraged to check in with NOTAMS, “frequently” in case of changes to operation areas in the TFR airspace.

The Florida operations number for NOTAM contact is 850-815-4942. The Florida Air Operations branch is in charge of scene emergency response activities.