FAA: Norwood Airport Authority Violated Federal Law

 - November 1, 2018, 10:40 AM

Following review of an FAR Part 16 filing, the FAA has determined that the town of Norwood, Massachusetts, and the Norwood Memorial Airport commission violated federal grant assurances by “unreasonably denying” Boston Executive Helicopters (BEH) the ability to establish an FBO at the airport and “improperly granting” exclusive rights to the existing FBO, FlightLevel Aviation. The ruling also addressed unauthorized leasing of airport property to Verizon for non-aeronautical use.

Over the last decade, BEH has been attempting to establish an FBO at Norwood Memorial Airport but has been thwarted continuously by the city and airport commission, according to the FAA. In early 2016, BEH filed the Part 16 complaint against the Norwood Airport authorities. Under Part 16, grievances can be submitted for alleged violations of fair and equal treatment of all users at airports that receive FAA grants.

In its filing, BEH contended—and the FAA agreed—that the commission has been violating Part 16 “through a pattern of unreasonable demands,” offers of access on “unreasonable terms” not applied to FlightLevel, restrictions on its operations “not imposed on other tenants, preferred treatment of the airport’s sole FBO, [and] leasing of most flight line facilities to the one FBO.”

According to the FAA, the airport commission’s “delaying tactics, restrictions, and excessive financial information requests” constituted a “continued pattern of delay to prevent BEH from completing the FBO permitting process.” The FAA also determined that the town and the commission’s actions constitute an “unreasonable denial of access [to BEH] and unjust economic discrimination [against BEH].”

As a result of the FAA’s investigation, the agency ordered the town and the commission to “take immediate steps to promptly complete the FBO permitting process with BEH, discontinue leasing practices that provide exclusive rights to a single FBO, and rectify the unauthorized lease of airport land [to Verizon] for non-aeronautical use.”

The town and the commission have until December 1 to appeal. “We will be meeting with counsel to determine our next steps,” an airport commission spokesperson told AIN.

Meanwhile, a trial is set to begin on December 10 in the U.S. Federal Court in Boston to hear the lawsuit filed in 2015 by BEH against the town and the commission over the FBO dispute.