July 24, 2014 - The FAA released a long-awaited hangar use policy this week that addresses non-aeronautical use of hangars at federally obligated airports. EAA worked with the FAA to create the policy, which is designed to alleviate confusion stemming from a 2012 letter to the city of Glendale, Arizona.
The letter was widely circulated in the airport community and was interpreted by some as general policy. It suggested that the only objects that were acceptable in hangars at federally-funded airports were aircraft and a very limited list of aircraft-related items such as tow bars and wash racks, and the bare minimum of furniture and personal convenience items necessary for flight planning.
Because it suggested that all non-aeronautical objects in hangars constituted a violation of airport sponsors’ grant assurances, this letter led to many airports tailoring their own local hangar use policies to mimic the letter for fear of losing federal grant money.
The recently released policy, on the other hand, allows that “the incidental storage of non-aviation items that does not interfere with the primary purpose of the hangar and occupies an insignificant amount of physical hangar space will not be considered to constitute a violation of the [airport sponsor’s] grant assurances.” The policy also reiterates that the FAA is willing to work with airports with insufficient aviation demand for its hangars to use airport structures for interim non-aeronautical use, albeit at higher, non-aviation rental rates.
The policy explicitly recognizes for the first time “final, active assembly” of aircraft as a protected aeronautical activity. Homebuilders in the past often found themselves unable to rent a hangar because their aircraft were not yet airworthy and their local airport required airworthiness as a prerequisite for hangar rental, which left the homebuilder in the awkward position of being unable to finish the aircraft and transport it to the airport for inspection and flight testing. This new policy eliminates that situation and codifies the aeronautical nature of homebuilding.
The FAA is accepting comments on the proposed policy, and EAA members are encouraged to read the policy and offer comments to the agency. EAA is reviewing the policy and will submit formal comments, which will be made available to our membership.