The roughly 75 airports nationwide with residential through-the-fence access may continue to offer those operations and remain in compliance with FAA regulations, according to the agency’s new through-the-fence policy released Sept. 9.
Airport operators, pilots, and AOPA had weighed in on the issue when the agency proposed to eliminate through-the-fence access in 2009.
“This is a major victory for pilots nationwide. AOPA has been working hard to persuade the FAA that their RTTF access policy announcements from last year were significant departures from the past, and needed to be re-evaluated. We are very pleased that the FAA listened and responded positively to our concerns,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “But we still have some work cut out for us. The FAA wants to prohibit any future through-the-fence access. We oppose a blanket prohibition and will work with the agency to try to develop a more flexible policy for future access.”
The new policy allows an airport sponsor to extend the legal rights for through-the-fence access when they expire as long as the FAA concurs. At airports with many through-the-fence access points, the sponsor will need to implement formal measures to ensure that it maintains the proprietary powers and mitigates adverse effects on the airport.
While the association is pleased with the FAA’s policy, AOPA plans to clarify the agency’s misinterpretation of AOPA’s stance on future through-the-fence access. In the policy, the FAA addresses comments received during the public comment period and claims that “AOPA would accept a policy against establishing new resident through-the-fence access arrangements.”
“This is inconsistent with our written statements regarding future through-the-fence access,” Pecoraro said. “AOPA has always advocated for a flexible approach to determining future access. Through-the-fence operations can play a vital role in helping airports thrive.”
AOPA will be filing comments on the new policy and encourages pilots to do the same. Comments should include “Docket No. FAA-2010-0831” and should be submitted online by Oct. 25.