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Standing up For Fliers' Rights

EAA states issues with new FAA Airport Compliance Manual

April 1, 2010 — With a keen focus on defending its members’ rights and affordable access to public airports, EAA submitted official comments to the FAA’s massive new Airport Compliance Manual (FAA Order 5190.6B) this week. Randy Hansen, EAA government relations director, authored EAA’s 45-page response to the FAA’s 691-page Airport Compliance Manual. “Ensuring affordability and reducing complexity and difficulty for our members to participate in their passion - aviation – is the thrust behind our official comments,” he said.

EAA’s review uncovered seven specific areas of concern that, if left unchanged, will directly and negatively affect an individual’s ability to participate in recreational and general aviation activities. These seven areas are:

  1. Ethanol-free premium autofuel availability on public-use airports – With well over 100,000 aircraft flying today that use autofuel as their primary aviation fuel, less than 150 of the 5,300 public-use airports in the U.S. (2.8 percent) sell autofuel. EAA asks the FAA to clarify language in the manual that imposes an implied barrier to sell this fuel, to review FBO-fuel distributor contracts that prevent an FBO from selling autofuel, and to review individual airport minimum standards documents that impose unreasonable fuel usage requirements on FBO’s or single service providers.
  2. Self-maintenance restrictions on public-use airports - Many airports across the U.S. impose “aircraft owners may only perform preventative maintenance in hangars” restrictions. While the FAA’s Airport Sponsor Grant Assurance standards set no such limitation, EAA asks the FAA to clarify the language in the manual that created this barrier to maintenance safety.
  3. Access to public-use airports by recreational aviation pilots - Recreational aviation activities have evolved over the years and that evolution was accelerated with the introduction of light-sport aircraft (LSA) in 2004. Several LSA models (and ultralight vehicles) are specifically designed to be stored and maintained at the pilot’s home, like all other forms of recreational vehicles. EAA asks the FAA to clarify language that clearly shows this type of aeronautical activity is authorized to drive through a public-use airport access gate to go flying.
  4. Authorized aeronautical activities in airport hangars - The question of what may or may not be in a public-use airport hangar has been an issue for several years. EAA asks the FAA to clarify these lingering questions: Can experimental light-sport, amateur-built, and kit-built aircraft be constructed in a hangar? Can an individual restore their personal aircraft in a hangar? And what non-aeronautical support items can be stored in a hangar?
  5. Reduced Fair-Market-Value (FMV) rent for EAA chapters - During AirVenture 2007, EAA hosted a meeting with the FAA Associate Administrator for Airports and several EAA chapter leaders asking that this issue be clarified.  In October 2007 the FAA Director of Airport Compliance issued a determination that EAA Chapters could be eligible for reduced FMV rents upon showing the tangible and intangible benefits they provide to their airport. That determination was not included in this new manual.  EAA is now asking the FAA to change the manual to include that determination.
  6. Support for recreational aviation activities on public-use airports - In the new manual the FAA combined ultralight vehicles and LSA aircraft into the same airport high-risk category, meaning that if an airport found that ultralight vehicle activity was not compatible with other airport activities, that same finding would also automatically fall on LSA aircraft. In 2004 the FAA introduced the LSA Repairman certificate as a means for owners to maintain their own aircraft in a safe condition for flight. The manual does not yet recognize this certificate.  EAA asks the FAA to end the unintended discrimination against sport pilot and LSA regulatory authorizations.
  7. Adjacent Airport Residential Through-The-Fence (TTF) operations - The new manual abruptly changes the FAA policy regarding residential TTF operations – they are not authorized at all, no exceptions. EAA firmly believes that residential TTF operations have a place at public-use airports and can operate safely and in complete compatibility with other activities at the airport.  Two weeks ago, EAA hosted a residential TTF Working Group meeting to develop a residential TTF access agreement checklist that the FAA, airport managers, and residential TTF operators could use to make the safe and compatible determination. EAA asks the FAA to adopt this document.

EAA also asks the FAA to accept Independent Operators (mechanics and repairmen) as fully authorized to come through public-use airport access gates to assist aircraft owners to perform aircraft maintenance. This authorization, which currently exists in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5190-7, was not carried over into the new manual. EAA is asking the FAA to add this to the new manual.

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