The FAA has granted a 30-day extension on the comment period for its proposed “Policy on the Non-aeronautical Uses of Airport Hangars,” and AOPA is encouraging members to submit their thoughts.
AOPA also plans to file formal comments, which will focus on asking the FAA to broaden its definition of the types of items and activities that belong in hangars.
While AOPA and the FAA agree that hangars should be reserved for aeronautical uses, the association would like to see that definition expanded and believes the FAA’s proposed changes don’t go far enough.
AOPA wants the FAA to classify every hangar that houses an aircraft that is airworthy or in the process of becoming airworthy (under active construction, repair, or renovation) as being in aeronautical use.
The association also plans to ask the FAA to ensure that certain other aeronautical activities, such as the preparation and storage of equipment for skydiving; the storage of ballooning equipment; and the storage of seasonal aircraft equipment such as floats, skis, and wheels are included in the policy.
Currently the FAA does not consider the construction of homebuilt aircraft to be an aeronautical use. And while the proposed policy would allow for “final assembly” of a homebuilt aircraft, AOPA is asking the agency to go further and consider the entire aircraft construction process an aeronautical use.
“Building an airplane is the quintessential aeronautical activity,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “It builds excitement, pulls community members together, and ultimately leads to more flying.”
The association is also asking the FAA to give additional flexibility to the owners of private hangars. Since these hangars are built and paid for by the owners, most individuals consider them to be an extension of their homes.
“If a private owner has an aircraft in the hangar, he or she should be allowed to use additional space for storage or gatherings,” said Pecoraro. “As long as the hangar’s use is primarily aeronautical and other uses don’t violate lease agreements, airport minimum standards, or building codes, owners should have some latitude to decide what to do with the space.”
Although a new deadline has not yet been posted, the comment period on the FAA’s proposal will remain open an additional 30 days beyond the original Sept. 5 deadline. After reviewing the draft policy, pilots are encouraged to submit comments through the rulemaking website or by mail to Docket Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Routing Symbol M-30, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, D.C. 20590. All comments should reference Docket No. FAA-2014-0463.