June 11, 2015

Recent threats to business aviation access at airports in California and New York are unlawful and would compromise the national aviation system, NBAA has been making clear in light of local and national proposals to restrict business aviation at airports in those states.

“Airports are part of a national system that requires a national approach to operational policy – not an approach based on local interests or pressure groups,” said NBAA COO Steve Brown. “Efforts to restrict aircraft operations at public-use, publicly funded airports are misguided and could have a devastating impact on local economies, the surrounding communities and the national aviation system as a whole.”

One recent challenge to airport access came in the form of an amendment, introduced on June 4 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-28-CA), which attempted to exempt California’s Bob Hope Airport (BUR) from long-standing federal grant assurances, partly so that new noise restrictions could be introduced for that airport.

Schiff offered his amendment as part of a major transportation-spending bill – H.R. 2577, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act for FY 2016 – which was under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives at the time.

Schiff has offered similar proposals in previous years, and following the introduction of this one, NBAA joined with a number of other national aviation associations in writing a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the THUD Committee, voicing strong opposition to it.

Read the full letter from the group of aviation organizations regarding Schiff’s proposed amendment to H.R. 2577. (PDF)

“Amendments like these would circumvent the requirements of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) and set a dangerous precedent,” wrote NBAA and the other groups. “Further, such a precedent would open the floodgates to the creation of a patchwork of confusing and complex operations restrictions across the country that would undermine our national aviation and airport system.” The letter notes that the amendment “would do little, if anything, to improve the noise environment around Burbank.”

Although the House passed H.R. 2577 on June 9, Rep. Schiff’s proposal was defeated.

While that outcome was welcome news to NBAA and other aviation stakeholders, other proposals affecting local airports continue to raise concerns. For example, an amendment recently offered by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-1-NY) would limit the FAA’s role in the consideration of locally driven noise and access restrictions presented by the town council for East Hampton Airport (HTO) on New York’s Long Island. The House subsequently included Zeldin’s measure in H.R. 2577; NBAA is committed to opposing it as it moves through the legislative process.

The Schiff amendment comes as NBAA continues to contest – both with the FAA, and in federal district court – the adoption of the HTO noise-and-access restrictions offered by the town council, which include a mandatory nighttime curfew, an extended curfew on so-called “noisy” aircraft and a limit on those aircraft of one trip per week during the summer. The Association and its partners contend that the restrictions all violate general legal principles and specific contractual commitments that East Hampton has made to the FAA.

Read more about NBAA’s actions to keep HTO open to business aviation.

“Local airports do not have the authority to regulate the types of aircraft that can operate at that airport,” said NBAA’s Steve Brown, regarding the actions at HTO. “NBAA will continue to fight these and any access restrictions for business aviation at the nation’s airports.”