Florida Airport Hopeful TTF Access Will be Restored
December 9, 2009—Owners of condo-style hangars at the Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda, Florida, have a through-the-fence agreement with the Charlotte County Airport Authority (CCAA) to access the runway through a security gate across a taxiway that is opened remotely like a garage door. Recently, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official on a routine inspection of the airport observed an aircraft taxi through the gate and continue on its way without waiting for the gate to close. This particular gate is set for a longer delay before closing, and the aircraft in question taxied almost out of view before the gate began to close. The TSA soon after chained the gate and now requires aircraft from the condo hangar area to coordinate passage through with a lineman at the nearby fixed base operator.
Jerry Goin, president of EAA Chapter 565 based at the Punta Gorda airport, recently spoke to the CCAA about why the TSA took the action, “They [hangar owners] got access cards just to get through that gate. The TSA was a little leery about the fact that they did not have the same screening as [airport tenants],” said Goin, who leases an on-airport hangar.
Ten years ago a developer wanted to build residential hangar-homes on the north side of the airport. The CCAA was hesitant to allow residential homes, but it did approve condo-style hangars that are larger than typical aircraft-only hangars. The CCAA allowed through-the-fence access to the airport operations area as long as the developer built secure fencing and access to the condo-hangar area.
Punta Gorda does have scheduled airline service; however, the condo hangar area is on the far north side of the airport, almost a mile away from the secured airline ramp. According to Goin, this particular through-the-fence issue does not involve the FAA, and the airport authority is confident that the chains will come off the gate and prior access will be restored. “Once they get these pilots screened, that will take down one of the barriers that the TSA is bringing out,” Goin said.