Oct. 23, 2015
Continuing its effort against operating restrictions at New York’s East Hampton Airport (HTO), NBAA recently submitted its reply to the FAA regarding East Hampton’s formal answer to the Part 16 complaint that NBAA filed in May. The Association asked that the FAA require the revocation of two operating restrictions – an expanded curfew on so-called “noisy” aircraft, and a one-trip-per-week limit for those aircraft.
NBAA made clear that “the issues pending before the FAA in this proceeding are primarily matters of law, not fact, and have significance not just for East Hampton Airport, but also airports nationwide.”
NBAA also is a party to a federal lawsuit brought against East Hampton, which challenges all of the restrictions. In June, the court stayed the trip limit, but let the expanded curfew and a general curfew for all aircraft take effect. That decision is being appealed. Read: NBAA Joins Lawsuit to Preserve Business Aviation Access to East Hampton Airport.
Procedural wrangling has slowed progress on the FAA complaint, said Steve Brown, NBAA’s chief operating officer, but the case will soon be fully briefed and ready for a decision. East Hampton has taken the position that some of the grant assurances are no longer in effect, but that’s not the point, said Brown. As shown in NBAA’s response, “in adopting restrictions on operations at HTO, the town of East Hampton has violated assurances that everyone agrees are in effect until 2021.”
An additional issue raised by NBAA’s complaint is East Hampton’s effort to use airport funds to pay the legal defense fees associated with that complaint, as well as the costs associated with the federal litigation. This is an inappropriate use of airport funds, which primarily are collected from airport users.
Brown said the town cannot adopt operational restraints that are impermissible and then force the airport users to pay for them twice – both the costs of challenging them in court and for efforts by the town’s lawyers to justify them.