- May 15, 2008, 5:49 AM

Early Learjets, Westwinds, JetStars, Jet Commanders and other Stage 1 aircraft are now history at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owner and operator of the airport, has henceforth banned the operation of these aircraft at the popular general aviation field just across the Hudson River from New York City.

In a separate action, the FAA has upheld a long-standing Port Authority rule prohibiting aircraft weighing more than 100,000 lb from using the field. Under this rule the Boeing Business Jet and Airbus Corporate Jetliner, as well as other bizliners, cannot land at Teterboro. The BBJ, for example, weighs up to 171,500 lb. Boeing has been seeking a waiver of that Port Authority rule.

Steve Barlage, Boeing Business Jets director of regional sales, said the decision could have ramifications for airports throughout the U.S. “The issue has been presented,” he said, “as a dispute between the Port Authority and Boeing. That is not the case. The issue is who has eminent domain over airport access and restrictions?

“The FAA cannot acquiesce to the Port Authority. It is giving the Port Authority the right to impose restrictions,” Barlage said. He maintains that such action is the responsibility of the FAA: “Suppose Newark-area residents demanded restrictions on Newark Airport. Would the Port Authority have the right to restrict commercial airline operations?

“The Teterboro restriction is not a Boeing issue. It’s a matter of principle. It could affect every one of the 5,000 general aviation airports in the country. The issue at smaller general aviation airports might not involve Boeing, but it might involve the GV and Global Express.”

Barlage said that Boeing has not lost a single sale because of the Teterboro restriction. “Our owners can go into Newark, La Guardia, JFK, White Plains, Morristown and Stewart [in the New York City area],” he said. “We would like to have access to Teterboro. Our customers would like to have access to Teterboro. But they do have access to the New York area.

“We are considering a number of options,” said Barlage. “One of them would be to write a brief to the FAA in Washington. The purpose of the brief would be to obtain a formal decision. The current ruling sets a precedent that could create a climate for imposing restrictions on airports used by business aviation.”

There are two main issues involved in this controversy. The first involves the question of whether access is being denied to a public transportation facility that has received government funds. The second is whether the runways at Teterboro can handle weights exceeding 100,000 lb.

Both those who support and oppose the weight limit have submitted lengthy statements supporting their points of view. New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman (D-9th District), who has been working to prevent the overturn of the 100,000-lb ruling, held a press conference at the Teterboro Town Hall hailing the FAA decision. He also praised the Port Authority’s decision to ban Stage 1 aircraft, and he vowed next to ban Stage 2 aircraft at Teterboro.