By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Federally funded airports that now allow "through-the-fence" access for owners of hangar homes on adjacent private property may continue to do so, the FAA said in an interim policy published on Friday. The FAA had moved to stop all such access in 2009, citing economic and security concerns. The interim policy, which is effective immediately, requires airports involved in such agreements to develop a plan that outlines how they will meet federal standards for security, safety, sustainability and nondiscriminatory airport rates. No new agreements will be approved, the FAA said. The policy will be reviewed again in 2014. Dr. Brent Blue, organizer of ThroughTheFence.org, told AVweb the FAA's interim policy fails to address the real issues facing owners of hangar homes.
"Imagine if you want to sell your home, you're still in limbo until 2014, when the policy might change," he said. He is hopeful that the FAA reauthorization bill now moving through Congress will resolve the issue once and for all. "There is language in the bill now that has a very good chance of passing, that permanently states the FAA cannot deny funding to an airport based on whether they allow through-the-fence operations," he said. Blue said the FAA's release of the interim policy is a tactic to make it appear they have dealt with the issue and discourage lawmakers from supporting the legislative change. AOPA said the interim rule is a big step forward from the FAA's original proposal. "To their credit, the FAA initiated a review, and took a collaborative approach that resulted in significant changes which allow residential access to continue," said John Collins, AOPA's manager of airport policy. EAA said the interim policy is "fair and reasonable" for existing TTF airports, but objected to the FAA's ban on all future agreements. Those decisions should be made by local airport operators, EAA said.