October 3, 2008
AOPA is asking for changes to proposed airport certification rules that could harm many smaller general aviation airports.
The proposed changes to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 139 could require some 50 GA airports across the United States to obtain certification. That could lead to higher costs and increased security restrictions for general aviation pilots.
The FAA is proposing to make Part 139 airport certification apply to all airports served by a scheduled air carrier using aircraft with 10 or more seats. Currently only airports served by 30-plus-seat aircraft need to be certificated.
"Airport certification costs are usually passed on to all users, including general aviation," said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president and executive director of government and technical affairs. "But some of services don't directly benefit GA. And some, like airport security, actually impede GA operations."
Part 139 airport certification requires, among other things, dedicated aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) equipment and crews, the hiring of a "qualified wildlife damage management biologist," and security fencing and other controls to prevent public access to aircraft.
"In the past, the FAA has allowed an unnecessary security burden to be placed on general aviation at small commercial service airports," said Roberts. "Some airports have made it extraordinarily difficult to access GA areas."
In 12 pages of comments on the Part 139 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), AOPA argued against unreasonable security restrictions.
The association said that additional costs incurred because of airport certification should be fairly apportioned among the users who actually benefit from the services.
And AOPA offered the FAA ideas on how provide services required by airport certification at a lower cost.
"The FAA should take the appropriate steps to ensure that compliance with any new airport certification requirements is closely associated with adequate cost mitigation," said Roberts.
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