House Airports Bill Drawing Alarm from Aviation Orgs

 - December 23, 2019, 11:24 AM

A bill seeking to permit small airports to establish a range of operational restrictions is drawing fire from a spectrum of the aviation industry, with nine associations expressing fear that such authorization would “dismantle our national system of airports.” Representing general aviation, business aviation, cargo, helicopter, and commercial operators, the associations raised their concerns about H.R.5423, the Aircraft Noise Reduction Act, to House Transportation and Infrastructure leaders in a December 20 letter.

Citing the difficult approval process that airports must undergo to impose restrictions, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colorado) recently introduced the bill, which would enable small airports to set curfews and limit the number and types of aircraft that can operate at their facilities, among other restrictions. It also would prohibit the FAA from withholding federal funds from airports that choose to regulate aircraft noise.

However, the associations said that the bill would be “undercutting the utility and safety of thousands of airports across our nation and reversing course on the need to regulate aviation matters at the federal level, which Congress has recognized since the 1920s.”

In 1990 Congress passed the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) affirming that aviation should be federally regulated, the organizations said, adding that act “stopped an epidemic of local noise restrictions that had begun to threaten the efficiency and safety of our nation’s airports. ANCA provides an effective process for scrutinizing noise and other access restrictions, they added.

“Uniform federal authority is an essential predicate to the safe and efficient administration of the NAS,” they further said. “Any changes to this well-established process will open the door to a tangle of conflicting local regulations, encouraging inefficiencies and jeopardizing safety.”

They also are concerned it would shift more traffic to already congested large airports.

Signing the letter were the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Airlines for America, Cargo Airline Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, National Business Aviation Association, and Regional Airline Association.