Touching Bases: FAA lawyer supports Naples decision

 - August 5, 2008, 8:26 AM

An internal FAA review last month upheld the agency’s decision to withhold airport grants from Naples Municipal Airport, Fla., though the Naples Airport Authority (NAA) won two of the five legal points reviewed. In supporting the agency’s decision to challenge the authority’s Stage 2 ban, FAA chief counsel James Whitlow conceded that the courts had not made clear their position on the issue of federal preemption in the case of the Stage 2 ban, nor was the ban technically determined to be “unjustly discriminatory,” though he did allow that it was “unreasonable.” Further ruling in favor of the FAA decision, Whitlow also determined that the dismissal of an NBAA lawsuit had no bearing on the FAA’s decision to withhold funds and that the ban is not consistent with the NAA’s statutory and contractual obligations, under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, to ensure the airport is available for appropriate public use. At press time, the NAA had until July 15 to appeal Whitlow’s decision, after which FAA associate administrator for airports Woodie Woodward would have until August 25 to rule on the appeal.