The FAA’s new Airport Compliance Manual adversely affects every federally funded airport by its new mandate telling local airports how to deal with their neighbors, according to the organizer of ThroughTheFence.org. Brent Blue notes the new policy forbids local airport authorities from entering into new “through-the-fence” (TTF) agreements with owners and requires the non-renewal of current agreements at the end of their contract term. The rule, which replaces “discourage” with “prohibit,” affects thousands of businesses, pilots, aircraft hangars, and hangar homes connected by gated taxiways to airport property, Blue says.
The FAA, responding to two Freedom of Information Act requests from ThroughTheFence.org, could not provide any data to support new prohibitions on TTF agreements, Blue said, noting the new prohibitions were unveiled Sept. 30 without any public input or comment.
A “though-the-fence” agreement permits the owner of private land next to an airport to have taxiway access to the runway via a gate. The owner pays the airport a TTF fee for access and uses airport services such as fuel and maintenance.
Airport access generally increases the value of the private land, increasing property taxes benefiting the general public. Hangar homes, where pilots live in adjoining residences to aircraft hangars, provide increase security due to their presence as vested observers of airport activity day and night, Blue said.
“The new TTF prohibition rules look like FAA staffers made them up as they went along based on their own prejudices without one iota of supporting data,” he said. “This is a classic example of government gone wrong.”
One of the two FOIA requests made by Blue asked for any documentation of noise complaints from owners of hangar homes, one of the stated reasons by FAA personnel for why the agency has prohibited TTF hangar homes at federally funded airports. The FAA’s Director of Airport Compliance Randall Fiertz could only state “we were not able to locate any records or files pertaining to your specific request, and we are unaware of any other federal offices likely to possess responsive records” in a Dec. 16 letter to Blue.
The second FOIA asked for “any and all records…that went into the formulation of FAA policy related to “hangar homes/residences” and “through the fence” agreements.”
“The response to the second FOIA was even more absurd,” Blue stated. “The FAA’s response was public documents of their current decisions and their attempts in the past to stifle TTF activity, but not one shred of material which supports the establishment of the prohibition. It is obvious they have no supporting data for the rule change.”
For more information: ThroughTheFence.org