FAA rejects Port Authority proposals to limit TEB traffic

 - October 5, 2006, 11:08 AM

The FAA has rejected all four proposals the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) made to limit traffic at Teterboro Airport (TEB). Anthony Coscia, PANYNJ chairman, made the recommendations at a hearing of the senate legislative oversight committee on June 20.

Coscia’s four proposals were designed to help the Port Authority reduce the number of flights at Teterboro by 10 percent. One of those proposals would establish new weight limits at the airport reducing the current 100,000-pound limit to 80,000 pounds. Coscia claimed that the weight limit reduction to 80,000 pounds was based on the weight-bearing limitations of the runway. In effect, the result would ban the Gulfstream V and G550 and the Bombardier Global Express, Global XRS and Global 5000 from using the airport.

The proposal also called for a ban on all Stage 2 operations at the airport as well as for preventing the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank from flying checks and negotiable securities into the airport on night courier flights.

Finally, Coscia proposed an increase in landing fees, which he said was not for economic reasons but rather to keep some aircraft out of Teterboro.

FAA Challenges Proposals

In a July 7 letter to Coscia Arlene Feldman, the FAA’s eastern region administrator, responded to each of his proposals.

First, Feldman addressed the aircraft weight restriction, noting, “A reduction in that limit would appear to have no physical basis in the capacity of the airport’s pavement. As a result, it would be considered a noise or access restriction subject to the requirements of ANCA (the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990). All operating rules at TEB are subject to review for consistency with the Port Authority’s federal obligations under Grant Assurance 22 as well as ANCA.”

With regard to the proposed Stage 2 ban, there is a current Port Authority restriction of 90 dB on Runway 24 during the day and 89 dB at night. Coscia would expand that restriction to all runways, which would effectively ban Stage 2 aircraft. Feldman pointed out that the rule would restrict some Stage 3 aircraft as well.

In response to the proposal to convert the voluntary night curfew to a mandatory curfew, Feldman wrote, “Any proposed new restriction would be subject to review for consistency with the requirements of your grant assurances.”

Finally, Feldman addressed the proposed increase in landing fees. She wrote, “Any new airport fee could be subject to our review or could be challenged by airport users for consistency with federal laws and policy.”

Coscia argued that some of his proposals are safety-related. Feldman addressed that argument in her letter as well. She wrote, “As you know, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority are taking various measures to enhance safety at TEB, including the installation of engineered material arresting systems at the end of runways with nonstandard runway safety areas.

“We will also address any recommendations by the NTSB that follow from the investigation of recent incidents at the airport. We will continue to look for ways to enhance safety at the airport, but we do not view the restrictions proposed in your recent comments as part of that effort. We do not see any relation between safety and the kinds of restrictions on airport use you are proposing.”

Feldman continued, “Improvements made at TEB and other airports operated by the Port Authority have been made with federal financial assistance. The Port Authority, as the sponsor of these federal grants, assumed certain obligations to maintain and operate TEB for the use and benefit of the public and to make it available to aeronautical activity on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination.”

Coscia May Be Undeterred

There have been reports that the Port Authority is committed to enacting its proposed restrictions in spite of the FAA’s response. In fact, Coscia told the Senate legislative oversight committee that he would impose the bans without the FAA’s consent.

The FAA could cut off federal funds to the airport if the Port Authority violates the agency’s edicts. A majority of those funds are used for safety enhancements. If the Port Authority refuses to recognize the FAA’s authority, it could effectively reduce the agency’s continuing efforts to increase safety margins at TEB. The Port Authority could, of course, invest its own money in safety enhancements if it chooses to ignore the FAA and loses its funding for the airport.