Hangar Policy 'Significant Win' For Homebuilders: EAA

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EAA says the FAA's proposed policy on hangar use at federally funded airports is a lot better than the previous rule and, for the first time, offers homebuilders some protection. "It is in fact an improvement," Doug Macnair, EAA's VP of Government told AVweb. "It actually protects our community for the first time." As we reported Sunday, the FAA has published a proposed policy in the Federal Register that will more clearly define how airport facilities may be used. Comments are being taken until Sept. 5 and can be submitted online citing docket number FAA-2014-0463. The policy says most of the work involved in building an airplane is a "non-aeronautical use" because there is no need to have access to airport facilities in the early stages of construction. Our publication of the proposed policy got the phone ringing at EAA headquarters (AVweb was in contact with EAA Saturday about the rule and told them we would be running the story.) EAA had published a story about the ruling July 24. Macnair said EAA has been working for two years to get the FAA to modify its former zero-tolerance policy on non-aeronautical uses (including all phases of homebuilding) at its obligated airports and the new policy is the result. "Is it exactly what we want? No," said Macnair. "Is it better than before? Much. It is a significant win for our community."

Macnair said the issue came to a head two years ago after a dispute at Glendale Airport (PDF) near Phoenix brought the hangar-use issue to the FAA's attention. The dispute prompted an audit of airport operations all over the country that found numerous violations of the "extremely restrictive" existing policy, which is that hangars are for airplanes and the items needed to keep them flying. Period. He said EAA has been at the forefront of an effort to keep the FAA from applying the letter of the existing law to airports while negotiating with the feds to come up with a policy that more realistically represents the activities at airports. "At one point we even had a discussion about whether bookshelves should be allowed." So, while building the subcomponents of airplanes is not allowed under the proposed policy, the ability to get the airplane ready for flight will be enshrined and Macnair says that's a huge win. "You have to realize where we're coming from," he said. "It [building aircraft] was not legal to do at all." Along the way, Macnair said the FAA relented on the incidental storage and placement of a reasonable amount of non-aeronautical items in the hangar as long as they don't get in the way of the aviation that is supposed to go on there. So furniture, appliances and other things that help keep the "friendly environment" going at airports will be OK.