FAA hints at details of upcoming through-the-fence proposal

September 2, 2010

In a meeting with general aviation advocacy groups, the FAA Office of Airport Compliance and Field Operations Director Randall Fiertz described the criteria that will be outlined in the office’s soon-to-be-released revision of its policy on residential through-the-fence access at federally funded airports.

The residential through-the-fence access issue has proven highly controversial among airports, pilots, businesses, and the government. In 2009, the agency called for the elimination of these operations, in which aircraft based at homes and businesses on private property can access airport taxiways and runways.

Because of the early outcry over the proposal, the FAA has worked with pilots, AOPA, and other associations to develop a more thoughtful policy. During more than two years of advocacy efforts, AOPA successfully helped the FAA to recognize that residential through-the-fence access must be decided on an individual basis. Airports and through-the-fence operations are too varied for a broad-brush policy.

“The FAA told us that they intend to provide an opportunity for every airport that currently has resident through-the-fence operations to be certified as compliant with their grant obligations if they can meet a series of minimum conditions for managing the existing access,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy.

However, the FAA plans to eliminate future residential through-the-fence access, a move that AOPA believes should be more flexible.

“We have come a long way from last year’s policy of eliminating residential through-the-fence access, to a policy that accommodates existing agreements,” Pecoraro said. “We will continue to work with the agency to try to open future opportunities for access at other airports. In some cases, these operations are a vital part of keeping the airport healthy and vibrant.”