The 75 known airports with residential-through-the-fence access can continue with their current agreements, but the airports sponsors must submit detailed access plans to their airports district office or regional airports office for review, according to a new interim rule the FAA has released.
“The interim rule is much different from what was proposed in 2009, which would have banned all existing and future residential-through-the-fence access,” said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy. “AOPA spent a lot of time talking with FAA Airports staff about the detrimental impact of the 2009 proposal, and we are pleased that our constant engagement paid off. To their credit, the FAA initiated a review, and took a collaborative approach that resulted in significant changes which allow residential access to continue at these airports.”
The rule states that airports that currently have residential-through-the-fence access will not be found noncompliant with Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant assurances. Access plans must, however, show how the airport has mitigated the standards of compliance to include general authority for control of airport land and access, safety of airport operations, recovery of costs of operating the airport, protection of airport airspace, and compatible land uses around the airport. Airports requesting AIP funding for Fiscal Year 2013 must submit their detailed access plans by Oct. 1, 2012. The FAA has posted an online toolkit and compliance guidance letter. The rule also imposes a moratorium on new access permits at federally obligated airports that do not currently have residential access agreements.
The FAA will review the interim policy in 2014 and will incorporate data from an ongoing general aviation airports study that is designed to help determine if there are airports where residential-through-the-fence should be an acceptable policy. Also, the FAA will be analyzing the access plans that are submitted for review to help develop a set of best practices that could lead to allowing residential-through-the-fence access in the future.
“We are encouraged that the FAA will review the issue in a few years to determine a final policy,” Collins said. “AOPA will remain engaged on this issue and continue our dialogue with the FAA to encourage them to remain open to future access at appropriate airports.”