A recent federal court decision overturning a ban on corporate jets at Santa Monica, California, could weigh heavily on efforts to control noise and enhance safety at Mesa, Arizona’s Falcon Field, the fourth busiest general aviation airport in the country, The Arizona Republic reported on June 16. The ruling essentially supports the Federal Aviation Administration‘s authority to prohibit cities with FAA agreements from denying airport access to particular types of aircraft in a discriminatory way.
In recent months, residents around Falcon Field have complained about noise coming primarily from a new flight instruction school that moved from Scottsdale last year. While the complaints have come from a handful of sources, they have prompted the city to form a special task force to deal with the problem. The court ruling would prevent the city from banning or limiting access for flight schools, business advocates say and James K. Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association, wants to make sure that the city does not do anything to infringe on the rights of aviation businesses, the newspaper said.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and City Manager Chris Brady have asked the Falcon Field Ad Hoc Task Force to review a wide range of airport issues, including landing fees, standards for aviation service centers that sell fuel, and measures to assure that city-owned hangars are rented only for storage of licensed, operable aircraft. The group’s recommendations will be used to help the city redefine the airport’s role as the center of an aerospace business district that employs nearly 5,000 workers while delivering more than $200 million in annual salaries.
“City residents may feel that the city can limit access to the airport facilities when it feels there is a safety issue, but as recent developments at Santa Monica Municipal Airport in southern California demonstrate, the Federal Aviation Administration is the final authority on issues of safety,” Coyne said in a letter to Smith. He was referring to the FAA’s recent action against Santa Monica, after its city council banned some corporate jets from using the city-owned airport because of its proximity to neighborhoods and businesses. The ban violated agreements the FAA has with the city, a court decision made clear. FAA grants to Mesa over the last two decades also prohibit denial of airport use, said airport director Corinne Nystrom.
A letter to Mesa City Manager Chris Brady from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association also cautions him to ensure that new airport “procedures, rules or standards” don’t restrict pilots from complying with federal laws “requiring recurrent training and operational experience.”
To read the full story: www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/06/16/20090616mr-falconrules0617.html