Little Airplanes Fight For Rights

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It's not legal to discriminate against small aircraft while giving all the breaks to jets -- that's the argument of three tenants at McClellan-Palomar Airport, near Carlsbad, Calif., who are about to be evicted so a developer can build 19 new jet hangars. A complaint filed with the FAA last month by the Pacific Coast Flyers Club, the owner of a pilot-supply shop and a retired airline pilot says the new lease was improperly handled by the county. The project will leave 150 small aircraft homeless with nowhere to go, resulting in "Prohibited Economic Discrimination," according to the complaint. Demolition of the old buildings is set for Oct. 1. According to the tenants' complaint, "the proposed development unreasonably discriminates against two classes of general aviation users: 1) GA businesses and their clientele who will be economically denied access, and 2) small aircraft owners, pilots, renters and tenants who will lose the ability to place their aircraft on the airport." The complainants want the FAA to intervene because it has given grants to the airport, which make it a "federally obligated property." If they can't save their hangars or get reasonable rents in the new hangars, they hope to at least get some reimbursement for their relocation expenses ... if they can find someplace to relocate to. AOPA sent a letter to the FAA in support of the complaint, saying the displacement of airplanes and GA businesses without any provision for replacement facilities "is an extremely serious matter."