Teterboro back in political cross hairs

 - March 26, 2008, 11:41 AM

Teterboro Airport is maintaining its position as a favorite target of local legislators. The new session of the state legislature had hardly gotten under way before two anti-Teterboro Assembly Resolutions were introduced. One of the Teterboro-targeted resolutions calls for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to ban flights between midnight and 6 a.m. The other calls for a continued ban on aircraft with an mtow of more than 100,000 lb.

Though it is never mentioned, the latter resolution is aimed specifically at keeping the Boeing Business Jet out of Teterboro, an issue that has been kept in the spotlight by anti-airport groups in surrounding communities.

Assembly Resolutions are filed with the Secretary of State and are more in the nature of recommendations than proposals for legislation. Both of these resolutions have been introduced by Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg, who has long been active in advocating curbs on Teterboro. The resolutions, recycled from the last session of the legislature,  were co-signed by Assemblyman Matt Ahearn. They went nowhere last year, there is little likelihood that they will be acted on this year and they will be reintroduced and meet the same fate next year, observers say. They are a formality to demonstrate to anti-airport constituents that their representatives are taking action on their behalf. Both Weinberg and Ahearn are from Bergen County, in which Teterboro is located.

One of the nation’s premiere business aviation airports, Teterboro has been a constant target of local politicians–one area official, Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota, has called for the closing of the field.

Lanny Rider, the airport manager, pointed out that the curfew proposal would be illegal. “The FAA would not permit a curfew,” he said, “because the Airport Capacity and Noise Act of 1991 prohibits it. The state can’t override the federal government. I have spoken to congressman Steve Rothman (who has advocated a curfew at Teterboro and a ban on aircraft weighing more than 100,000 lb) about that and he says he knows it. The 1991 Act specifically states that local authorities can’t establish a curfew.”

The Port Authority has a long-standing rule prohibiting aircraft weighing more than 100,000 lb from using Teterboro. Boeing officials point out that rather than banning these aircraft, the rule states only that prior permission is required. Rider said the Port Authority would grant such permission only to government, military or emergency aircraft.

The Busiest Airport in New Jersey
Teterboro, the busiest business airport in the state, is one of only two such airports in New Jersey licensed under FAA Part 139, which subjects an airport to the highest
operational standards. The other is Trenton Mercer, home base for many corporate aircraft. But Trenton Mercer has scheduled commuter service, which makes compliance with Part 139 mandatory. A BBJ could land at Trenton Mercer and also at Morristown Airport. Teterboro does not permit scheduled service, but it meets the Part 139 standards voluntarily.

A spate of other anti-airport legislation has been introduced in addition to the Teterboro resolutions. All of these are bills rather than resolutions, and some of them could apply to Teterboro. One would require any county in which an airport proposes expansion to establish a County Airport Expansion Citizens Review Board. The thinly veiled purpose is to stop airport expansion. This legislation could conceivably interfere with plans to construct new taxiways or relocate taxiways because it could be claimed that new taxiways constitute expansion.

Another bill lists specific circumstances under which airport expansion or runway extension would be prohibited: “If there is an educational facility located within 3,000 feet of the airport or of the proposed expansion or extension; if there are 7,000 or more residential dwelling units within 1,000 feet of the proposed expansion or extension; or if there are in excess of 15,000 persons residing within two miles of the airport or of the proposed expansion or extension, the expansion of extension would be prohibited.”

Still another bill would establish criteria under which airports would be classified to decide if expansion was permissible and, where it was, townships in which the airports are located or adjacent townships objecting to any proposed expansion would have an established system of appeals to try to stop expansion.

Similar bills have been introduced in the past but have never reached the floor for a vote. There is no reason to suppose that these bills will not meet the same fate. They are significant, however, because they indicate the atmosphere in which general aviation airports must function, and there is always the possibility that a new committee chairman could permit such bills to reach the floor for a vote.