The EAA is reporting that after several years, thousands of public comments, and the introduction of legislation, the FAA released its latest policy regarding non-aeronautical use of airport hangars. This is the latest development in the general aviation community's work to clarify acceptable hangar and land use for federally-obligated airports. Past FAA legal interpretations and policy have repeatedly threatened the airport as a hospitable place for building and restoring aircraft, as well as socializing and serving as a breeding ground for the pilots of tomorrow. A 2014 update to the policy rolled back some of the most restrictive guidelines, but was still severely lacking in other areas, particularly as it related to building and restoring aircraft.
EAA’s comments to that 2014 policy statement asked for all active assembly and restoration of aircraft to be permitted, as well as fewer restrictions on storing non-aeronautical items in hangars provided that doing so would not interfere with the hangar’s primary aeronautical use. EAA also pressed for formal recognition of EAA chapter hangars as an aviation-related, nonprofit activity eligible for less than fair market rent. The comments also asked that the FAA recognize that every airport is different and to allow some discretion by airport management to determine appropriate policy for their facilities.
Based on EAA’s comments, and the comments of more than 2,400 members of the public, the FAA now recognizes non-commercial aircraft construction as an approved aeronautical activity. The final policy also cited statute that gives all nonprofit aviation-related organizations access to airport property at less than fair market rent, as long as they do not displace aircraft owners seeking hangar space.
“This is yet another example of effective advocacy on behalf of EAA members,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “We are pleased to see that the FAA has been responsive to our policy recommendations.”
EAA also thanks Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) for introducing legislation on behalf of EAA members in the Senate FAA Reauthorization bill that identifies aircraft construction, repair, and restoration of personal use aircraft as a protected aeronautical activity. EAA is also very grateful to representatives Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) for introducing legislative fixes in the House FAA Reauthorization bill for issues in the previous FAA hangar use policy. Despite the positive FAA policy developments, Graves has vowed that he will continue to push for the legislation to ensure that the positive provisions of the new policy remain permanent.