How does ATC protect Air Force One?

KORD4me
  • How does ATC protect Air Force One? KORD4me

    Air Force One is obviously a big deal. We close terminals and implement other seemingly crazy safeguards against terrorist attacks while the president is en-route to an airport.

    How does ATC protect the president whilst in the air?

    1. I have heard of TFRs for "VIP in the area" reasons — is that for AF1?

    2. I am guessing that the aircraft identification is blocked, but wouldn't they still need to have the transponder on for TCAS?

    Specifically, the Wikipedia page on Air Force One has the following quote:

    Air traffic controllers gave Air Force One an ominous warning that a passenger jet was close to Air Force One and was unresponsive to calls. "As we got over Gainesville, Fla., we got the word from Jacksonville Center. They said, 'Air Force One you have traffic behind you and basically above you that is descending into you, we are not in contact with them – they have shut their responder off.' And at that time it kind of led us to believe maybe someone was coming into us in Sarasota, they saw us take off, they just stayed high and are following us at this point. We had no idea what the capabilities of the terrorists were at that point."

    Does having the transponder on just paint a huge target on the radar for terrorists?

  • Whenever Air Force 1 takes off or lands, the FAA establishes a 'Temporary Flight Restriction'.

    Essentially this is a big 'upside down wedding cake' of airspace in which Air Traffic Control exercises very tight control of any aircraft operating in the TFR. Any traffic entering the TFR without prior approval, or any aircraft deviating from ATC instructions will be intercepted by military aircraft.

    When President Obama takes a bus trip the FAA establishes a TFR over the bus, that moves so as to stay over the bus as he rolls along!

    Wikipedia has a good article on TFRs.

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