August 7, 2014 - Two weeks after the FAA unveiled its draft policy for allowed uses in hangars at airports that receive federal grant funding, much confusion has emerged regarding the overall effect of the policy and what it means for hangar tenants. That’s particularly true for homebuilders, who have heard conflicting stories about what it means for building an aircraft in an airport hangar.
“EAA headquarters has heard from many people with concerns about the possible effects of the FAA’s draft hangar policy, and we’re happy to give them the facts and encourage them to comment on the policy prior to the September 5 deadline,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “Unfortunately, some of what is being spread is based on faulty information from inaccurate reports and chatter. That is lending to the confusion on the issue.”
For homebuilders, the draft policy offers protections that never existed in an FAA policy. For the first time, aircraft construction is included as a protected aeronautical activity. Previously, homebuilders had no protection from airports that demanded only fully operating aircraft could be housed in hangars.
“This is a major step forward because it nationally recognizes homebuilding as an aeronautical activity, which it never was previously, even if it was allowed at an individual airport,” Elliott said. “Most homebuilders probably don’t realize that FAA has never recognized homebuilding as a protected aeronautical activity. Now that will change.
“However, we do not agree with the draft language regarding final assembly stipulations. EAA will ask the FAA to consider all active aircraft construction as an aeronautical activity. We believe any type of active homebuilding meets the standard of aeronautical activity and EAA will fight for that language.”
EAA members can do two things to help themselves and the homebuilt community: First, be informed by reading the policy draft and comment before September 5. Also, fully read and understand your airport’s hangar rental agreement to prevent any future disputes over what is allowed at your airport.