FOR MOST PILOTS, THROUGH-THE-FENCE issues may not be something that concerns
them on a day-to-day basis. But it should. Even if you, your flying club, or your company
does not rely on a special access agreement with your local airport from your hangar to
its runways, the new FAA policy that severely limits such agreements will restrict aviation participation.
Let’s back up: A through-the-fence (T TF) agreement is a local contract or arrangement
that allows aircraft parked outside an airport’s property borders to taxi to its runways.
Some examples of such activity include residential airparks adjacent to airports, or corporate flight department facilities next to runways, or a local airport that perhaps never
purchased a particular hangar and adjacent land when the airport expanded.
The FAA has never encouraged T TF agreements, instead relying on local determination
whether that arrangement was an economic benefit to the airport or was an operational
concern for local aviators. Last fall, the FAA released a policy memo—not a proposed
rule—that would severely limit any T TF operations, regardless of economic or operational
considerations. As mentioned in EAA Sport Aviation last month, the policy would affect all
T TF operations at publicly owned or financed airports, but doesn’t allow the opportunity
for the public to comment or suggest other solutions.
In late December, EAA made an official response to FAA’s “one size fits all” policy, after
failing to find any specific residential T TF operation that would cause such a policy to be
adopted. There were four specific points to EAA’s response in opposition to the new policy:
1) The success of prior FAA/public T TF agreements.
2) The U.S. Code, in which the policy would be stated,
does not prohibit T TF operations.
3) The FAA’s own grant guidelines mandate that each airport
work to be economically self-sufficient.
4) A ban on T TF agreements would lower property values, in effect
reducing residential property values without cause.
EAA recommended that the FAA suspend the new T TF policy and develop one that
provides the flexibility to allow adjacent residential operations and on-airport residential
access based on specific airport and general aviation aircraft needs.
This only makes sense. Throughout the nation, student pilot starts are down and airports aren’t building new hangars to meet demand, while at the same time locally funded
airports are seeking more ways to increase revenue and, in some cases, remain open. While
adjacent TTF operations are not the overall solution to dwindling aviation activity, they
offer another way for aviators to have the access they need and a method for local airports
to increase revenue.
EAA also offered to work with the FAA to develop a practical standard that would allow
opportunities for residential T TF operations, maintain the security needs of today’s air-
ports, and establish a way for local airports to welcome more activity and revenue.
Even if you personally might not be affected by a future ban on T TF operations, your
local airport might be. Or the airport where you prefer to land on your favorite cross-country trip might be affected. Without more participation, local airports will have an
increasingly difficult time maintaining services or even remaining open. More participation means better facilities to serve the flying community, and more opportunities for all
of us. And that’s why we should all care about T TF operations.
ON OUR RADAR
THE FUTURE OF LEADED avgas is limited, says the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) as it continues to communicate its concern about
the last source of leaded fuel in the
world, as it did at EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh and the recent AOPA Aviation
Summit. In various public forums the
EPA is stating that rulemaking to eliminate all leaded avgas is imminent. The
frequency and number of discussions
among EPA, aircraft and engine manufacturers, associations, and oil
companies will increase as we enter the
new year. The EPA has stated that it
intends to publish draft rulemaking to
trigger the removal of lead from aviation gasoline on or before October
2010. The EPA has also indicated in its
public presentations that it would like
to see leaded fuel phased out as early as
2017. “The level of industry engagement to develop a viable option to
replace 100LL is at its highest level in
more than 20 years,” said Earl
Lawrence. EAA continues to work with
the various industry and regulatory
groups to come up with the most viable
A REVISED LARGE AIRCRAFT Security
Program NPRM is expected to be
released by the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) soon.
EAA expects industry input from several 2009 public meetings with the
TSA to be incorporated into the
revised program. Once the new
NPRM is released, EAA will review it
and submit comments to the federal
docket, keeping in mind the need for
national security but protecting the
freedom of citizens.