New FAA hangar policy causing confusion

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, according to officials with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).

“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 Sept. 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,” he continued. “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.”

Homebuilder can do two things to help themselves and the homebuilt community, according to EAA officials. First, be informed by reading the policy draft and comment before Sept. 5. Also, fully read and understand your airport’s hangar rental agreement to prevent any future disputes over what is allowed at your airport.


  1. AJF says

    Question, I’m looking to rent a hanger, I want it for our car, boat, jet skis, and garage stuff, I want to tinker on my cars there but the owner said I need a plane.
    Well I found a plane that is older and used to be a experimental but now has E-LSA and airworthiness cert. no log as it hasn’t flown since gotten cert., can I use this plane, take wings off and keep it in the corner?

  2. Tony Cox says

    The new “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” contains some very “interesting” language. It is no wonder that people are confused. Our airport association (Boulder City, Nevada) have studied it closely, and have submitted a response which you can find here:- Here’s what some friends in Hawaii had to say in their blog:-

    “If you enjoy aviation in any form, this will scare the ^*#& out of you. GA as we know it is about to explode. Please read this well thought out comment to the FAA about hangar usage. This policy from the FAA has much wider ranging negative effects than you could ever imagine. I urge all of you to read this PDF from Boulder CIty and then provide your own comments prior to Sept 5th “

  3. says

    What is the difference between building an aircraft in a hanger or performing maintenance on an “off the shelf” airplane? In either case, the hanger contains
    tools and a case of oil. And you can put your car in the hanger when you go
    flyging. Doesn’t the latter change the funcationality of the hanger into a
    garage? When is a hanger not a hanger? When it is a garage. Now that should
    confuse the heck out of the legal types at the FAA. I have just given them fodder
    for creating a whole new set of hanger regulations.

  4. Kent Misegades says

    That’s pretty funny that the EAA’s Sean Elliott is fending off criticism from members by claiming they are confused. Much of the problem was caused by the EAA’s Doug Mcnair trying to convince us that this latest shoot-from-the-hip ruling by the FAA was somehow good for homebuilders. If the EAA leadership ever got out to a typical airport where EAA members built and based their aircraft, they would not be so surprised that a lot of us see this as yet another attempt to drive homebuilders out of aviation. I for one do all I can to avoid government-owned airports as a result, which avoids this and many other problems.

  5. Jeff S says

    The FAA’s hangar policies have been used as the impetus for the local authorities to kill ongoing renewable leases and effectively steal privately funded hangars. The FAA simply says the local authorities should have control of their lands and discourage long term (50+ year) leases. This was twisted into “The FAA requires us to have control of our land and everything on it, so the hangar leases will terminate with the municipality confiscating the privately owned hangars, which we will in turn lease back to the previous owners”. Sorry about your investments. Pure and simple political theft.

    • Brett Hawkins says

      Jeff S, I thought long and hard before purchasing a condo T-hangar at my local municipal airport. I insisted on receiving all documents, studied them carefully, and understood that our condo association was at the mercy of restricted use, renewable, 20-year ground leases with the “improvements will revert to lessor” clause. OTOH, the building is skinny and sits between two large commercial hangars. I believe it is not a prime site for reconstruction as a biz-jet hangar, so we might be left alone for the foreseeable future.

      My investment decision involved the price of a decent used car and I can afford to write it off if necessary. There are many (by my standards) large and expensive hangars on the field and the guys who own them fought (and won) against city hall over an attempted “confiscatory” lease rate increase several years ago. With that kind of precedent, I am hoping the feds will not pressure the city concerning the small sailboat, workbench and snow tires stashed in the corners of my hangar.

      I suspect that some feds feel that experimental (esp A/B), once a cute pass time for subscribers to Mechanix Illustrated, has gotten out of control like Ebola, and are looking for ways to force the toothpaste back into the tube. If they can’t rescind the current regs, they can try, between the delays of the SI procedures for geezers, and making it difficult to construct or maintain an A/B aircraft at a municipal airport, to kill it off by asphyxiation. While our local tower/FSDO staff has been very friendly and we hope it stays that way, who knows what the strivers in D.C. are plotting to further their careers at our expense?

  6. Walter Hake says

    Aircraft construction and maintenance has been an ongoing problem at our FAA supported airport. The lease contract is one sided, fails to recognize federal funds are being spent for the benefit of aviation, not for the local city and definitely not to CYA local politicians. If it is aviation oriented let renters have a free pass.

  7. Greg W says

    The “confusion: has been a great aid at many airports to help with eviction or lease refusal to the lower cost, non-desirable aircraft. The last public airport I was at had an issue with empty hangars, the solution was to remove an old five unit “T”. It was also crowding a taxi-way to a new private hangar for a new jet. The three planes from that unit went to other fields but, they didn’t buy much fuel any way. Another hangar has been used to store excess county equipment, (trucks) despite several offers to lease for aircraft storage and maintenance. Once again “our” local authorities are the greater problem, they just hide behind the Feds. claiming that they have no choice.

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