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EAA Efforts Find Success in Updated FAA Turf Operations Policy

April 07, 2022 – The FAA has just released updates to its airport design standards, and among the policy updates is a long-awaited acknowledgment to allow turf operations on unpaved runway safety areas (RSAs). This is a policy update first suggested by EAA several years ago during the annual EAA/FAA Winter Recreational Summit.

Subsequently, in September 2020, EAA combined with AOPA, the Recreational Aviation Foundation, and the United States Parachute Association in joint comments to the FAA in support of the turf operations proposal.

The updated policy (FAA AC 150/5300-13B, Chapter 2.10) includes key risk factors to consider for unpaved area operations, also commonly referred to as “turf operations.” It also covers airport design recommendations, FSDO safety assessments, maintenance requirements, and pilot education for aviators using either the paved or unpaved surfaces at an airport.

Aircraft often preferring a turf-operation option include vintage tailwheel aircraft, ultralights, gliders, and aircraft with large tundra tires, among others.

“This policy update has been several years in the making after EAA first asked FAA to codify what has taking place naturally at GA airports for decades,” said Lily Johnson, EAA’s government advocacy specialist, who coordinated the efforts with the FAA. “EAA has worked closely with the FAA, Midwest ATC, and Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh to prototype the concept for non-AirVenture time periods, as evidence that it can work effectively for airports throughout the nation and give pilots who prefer unpaved turf options as safer and less demanding on airframes.”

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