Another Salvo Fired From USA Today

So far, 2010 doesn't look to be much more friendly for GA than 2009. A New Year's Eve story by reporter Thomas Frank in USA Today questions whether using FAA funds is appropriate for airports that are privately owned. The article specifies airport properties that are not owned by cities, counties or other municipalities, where FBOs and other airport businesses lease space from the airport "sponsor" — the entity that owns or administers the property. Privately owned airports are in the minority, but are still eligible for federal funds based on their being part of the overall national air transportation system. Though the article did not specify, most privately owned airports are also "public use" airports, meaning that access cannot be restricted. Public-use airports are also subject to federal standards for safety features and upkeep. Also, airport owners must keep the property an airport after receiving federal funds, unless that obligation is removed by the government. Their right to sell the property is thus restricted, and the property value reflects this restriction. Proponents of sustaining privately owned, public-use airports argue that the facilities are a necessary part of the very public national air transportation system, though the land they sit on, and the businesses associated with its operation might be privately owned.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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