Airport sponsors on occasion have attempted to limit and place restrictions on certain types of aeronautical activities. Parachute operations, ultralight, glider, and "no radio" aircraft operations are activities that are most likely to face restrictions at airports. However, restrictions could possibly be imposed on any type of aeronautical activity at an airport.
Restrictions that are unjustly imposed on certain types of aeronautical activities that are not properly researched or in the best interest of safety have damaging effects on all aeronautical activities at the airport. Airports, as a public facility, are available for all classes of users, within the guidelines of safe and efficient operations, for aeronautical purposes. Restrictions unlawfully imposed on certain airport users today could set a dangerous precedent that could lead to future restrictions on all airport users tomorrow.
While an owner of a federally obligated airport must allow for its use by all types, kinds, and classes of aeronautical activity, as well as by the general public, the obligation agreements do provide for exceptions. Airport sponsors can in some cases restrict operations at the airport in the interest of safety and/or efficiency. However, such actions require the involvement of the appropriate local Flight Standards and Air Traffic representatives so that the reasonableness of the restrictions can be assessed. In all cases, the FAA will make the final determination of the reasonableness of the airport owner's restrictions, which deny or restrict the use of the airport.
FAA guidance states that, " in the interest of safety, the airport owner may prohibit or limit any given type, kind, or class of aeronautical use of the airport if such action is necessary for the safe operation of the airport or necessary to serve the civil aviation needs of the public." This allows the imposition of reasonable rules or regulations to restrict use of the airport. Also, it is important to remember that certain activities such as restaurants, ground transportation, and auto parking lots are not considered aeronautical activities by the FAA, and therefore, do not hold the same "weight" when confronted with restrictions by the airport. FAA Order 5190.6A Section 4-8 and Appendix 5 has additional information on this.
From a user perspective, it is important to conduct a little research and find out why there are proposed restrictions from the airport and the reasons behind a proposal that would restrict certain operations at the airport. It would also be appropriate to contact the appropriate FAA Airport District Office (ADO) and determine if, in fact, they either knew or approved the restriction.
If after consulting the airport and FAA, the users believe that the existing or proposed restrictions are contrary to grant assurances or established guidance and policy, resulting in an airport compliance issue, they should contact the ADO as prescribed in AOPA's Guide to FAA Airport Compliance.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.