Fly-in Communities Threatened by Security Inititatives

Fly-in communities, where homeowners have access to a runway from hangars on their property, now face a threat from the FAA. Such communities depend on so called "through the fence" (TTF) access, and new security concerns have the FAA challenging airports that already have the practice well established, including clauses written into property deeds and other legal agreements. Last October, the FAA began the comment period on a plan to phase out all existing residential through-the-fence access at public-use airports. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association told the FAA that its proposed "one size fits all" approach to residential fly-in communities needs to be more flexible. Under new guidance from the FAA, there are no acceptable residential through-the-fence agreements at airports that have accepted federal funds. AOPA argues this is a step up in its enforcement policy — and that the cost to airport sponsors in litigation (from aircraft operators/homeowners) could be crippling. Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, wrote in a letter, "We believe that the FAA should recognize that a number of residential TTF agreements already exist and in some cases any changes may be impossible for the airport sponsor to undertake without doing great damage to the airport and local aviation community."

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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