Following clarification from the FAA and pressure from AOPA and other aviation organizations, Huntington Beach, Calif., has backed away from threats to fine aerial advertisers operating in airspace above any part of the city limits.
Language in the FAA's General Aviation Operations Inspector's Handbook created confusion by suggesting that local ordinances might supersede federal authority. The FAA has now removed the confusing language, prompting Huntington Beach to rescind its ordinance.
The city council had passed an ordinance banning any aerial advertising, based on a federal court decision out of Hawaii. In that case, a pilot was granted an aerial advertising waiver with the proviso that he not violate any local ordinances. The Hawaiian municipality then passed an ordinance banning aerial advertising, and because the pilot was now in violation of a local ordinance, he lost his waiver.
"This action makes clear that the FAA intends to retain its control of our nation's airspace," said Andy Cebula, AOPA's senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "While this case was related to a banner towing operation, the change in FAA guidance makes clear the sole authority of the agency to regulate all U.S. airspace."
AOPA sent a letter to the Huntington Beach City Council, warning that its action to ban aerial advertisers preempted FAA authority.