Flexibility needed on airport ‘through the fence’ access

July 8, 2009

AOPA has expressed concern over the FAA’s broad-brush approach that would eliminate all existing through-the-fence access at public-use airports. Aircraft operations involving homes and businesses on private property that have access to airport taxiways or runways are called “through the fence” operations. The problem is of particular concern in the Northwest where the FAA is conducting an inventory of airports that have existing through-the-fence operations and is working with the airport sponsor to eventually eliminate that access.

AOPA has written a letter expressing concern and urging greater flexibility in the pending policy.

“In many ways, residential airparks or hangar homes can provide security and economic benefits to the airport and support an overarching goal of helping the airport become self sustaining,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports. “In fact, Independence Airpark in Oregon is a stellar example of the economic benefit the adjacent airpark offers in creating a self sustaining state-owned and -operated airport.

“AOPA does recognize that there must be parity among airport users whether based on or off the airport,” Williams said. “To that end, we support the FAA’s effort to conduct an inventory of residential through-the-fence operations to ensure economic parity and preservation of the airport sponsors’ rights and powers.”

Williams strongly recommended the FAA re-institute greater flexibility into the policy instead of trying to implement a one-size-fits-all approach. She suggested that AOPA and the aviation industry collaborate on a policy that benefits the airports and the users on a case-by-case basis.

For additional guidance on through-the-fence issues, see AOPA’s white paper.