The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is getting tough with the town of Islip, New York, over Long Island-MacArthur Airport (ISP). That following the town's latest anti-aviation move—a proposed $50,000 nighttime landing fee.
"Islip has tried to bend the law on several occasions," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of regional affairs. "We've tried to work with them. They've ignored us. Now let's see if they can ignore the FAA, which controls some of their airport funding."
AOPA has asked the FAA to investigate the town's operation of the airport.
Islip is creating unreasonable restrictions, AOPA said, and that is an illegal attempt to restrict aeronautical uses of the airport. It's likely that Islip is in noncompliance with the grant assurances it had made when it accepted federal tax dollars for airport improvements, according to AOPA.
The proposed $50,000 landing fee, to be imposed on all aircraft operations between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., is just the latest in the town's attempts to restrict general aviation.
Earlier this year, for example, the town sent a letter to all airport tenants, saying there is an ordinance that "essentially prohibits aircraft operations at Long Island MacArthur between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m."
That, at best, was a misrepresentation.
The ordinance actually sets a noise limit of 72 dB(A) for nighttime departures and 85 dB(A) for arrivals. Nearly all piston-engine singles and twins are quieter than that.
"We believed that Islip's Department of Aviation and Transportation was willfully misrepresenting the nighttime operations capability at MacArthur airport," said Dunn. "So we contacted the town twice to resolve our concerns.
"They ignored us."
The town of Islip has received more than $47 million since 1982 in federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds for the airport. In exchange for those taxpayer dollars, the town signed a contract with the federal government, agreeing to operate the airport "at all times in a safe and serviceable condition" and to "make its airport available as an airport for public use on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination."
AOPA told the FAA that Islip is not living up to those terms.
"Through misleading communications by the commissioner for the town of Islip Department of Aviation and Transportation and by attempting to enact a nighttime landing surcharge, the town of Islip is attempting to prohibit the aeronautical uses of the airport by enacting unreasonable restrictions," AOPA told the FAA.
The 375,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest pilot organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members.