BBJs banned at Teterboro by legislation

 - March 22, 2007, 11:01 AM

Boeing’s efforts to gain access to Teterboro Airport (TEB), N.J., for its BBJ have been rebuffed, at least for this legislative year. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), backed by Sens. Frank Lautenburg (D-N.J.) and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), attached the following language to the current FAA reauthorization bill, signed into law in late January: “None of the funds appropriated or limited by this Act may be used to change weight restrictions or prior permission rules at Teterboro Airport, Teterboro, New Jersey.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Teterboro is an outspoken advocate of the BBJ ban and applauded the legislation, while business aviation groups feared it may set a dangerous precedent.

The 100,000-pound limit at Teterboro goes back some 37 years, which brings some weight to the Port Authority’s argument. But when Boeing began marketing its BBJ, it challenged the rule at the FAA level, presumably to permit its aircraft to operate at Teterboro. Despite its clear agenda, Boeing maintains that its arguments have broader implications.

Any taxiway will crumble given enough years of use without resurfacing. The question raised by Boeing is: How does one quantify–in demonstrable engineering terms– the effect of large-aircraft traffic over time, and the long-term costs associated with maintaining the macadam? To date, the FAA has simply requested weight-bearing information from airport authorities and published it, unchallenged, in its official airport guidelines. Based on Boeing’s challenging Teterboro’s policy, the FAA sought to establish official engineering standards to apply to all airports, large and small. As the FAA and Boeing pointed out, under the existing policy, any airport authority, faced with political pressure from airport neighbors, could submit arbitrary weight restrictions in the name of saving its asphalt, when the actual issues were unrelated–such as noise. For example, what would limit an airport authority from posting a weight limit of, say, 10,000 pounds to keep out that light twin-engine aircraft that three or four high-profile airport neighbors don’t like?

The Port Authority is committed to retaining its 100,000-pound limit, and Rep. Rothman has said he would do whatever it takes to make the current rule permanent. As it stands, the language must be added to each successive FAA authorization bill from year to year, though it gains strength from precedent.

Rothman said, “The U.S. Congress and the President are now on record agreeing that the weight limit at Teterboro Airport must be upheld to ensure that these jets will not be skimming the rooftops of our homes and businesses.”