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Preserving Airport Access

Every day, the future of airports around the country is threatened because of encroaching housing or business developments, local funding issues, or other factors. Specifically, FAA’s through-the-fence (TTF) policy updates announced last fall have created a great deal of concern from those who use local access agreements to participate in aviation.

A recent gathering at the EAA Aviation Center in late February was a major milestone. It marked the first time top officials from FAA’s airports division came to Oshkosh specifically to speak with EAA regarding airport issues.

It was a great first step to sit down with the policymakers directly involved in airport decisions and hold cordial, yet sometimes frank, talks about the needs of EAA members and other aviators. Each group left the meeting with a greater understanding of the other’s needs and struggles.

EAA has begun a process to develop criteria that the FAA can use as part of a solution to the TTF problem. Recognizing examples of arrangements that work, as well those where conflicts exist, is essential in finding a solution that is workable for everyone.

As part of this work, EAA staff held a meeting with airport users at the EAA Aviation Center in March. Dr. Brent Blue, an EAA member from Wyoming and a former member of EAA’s Aeromedical Council, helped contact and invite airport users from throughout the nation to Oshkosh. We thank Brent and all the other members who took time to work toward helping the FAA develop a process for approving TTF operations.

The FAA is doing its homework, too—a move that also deserves credit. FAA airport officials have been touring the country in recent weeks to see exactly what TTF access means to local pilots and airport users.

Airport access is key to sustaining aviation participation and sparking future growth. That’s why it’s important to all of us, whether or not your local airport is threatened or has any TTF arrangements. Your involvement in working to preserve airports throughout the country is essential, and EAA, as always, stands ready to facilitate solutions.

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