Storage Restrictions

The Boulder City Airport receives federal funding from the FAA ($9.7 million within the last 5 years). With the acceptance of federal funds the airport assumes an obligation to comply with an array of grant assurances and related policies and orders that regulate how the sponsor (the City) can operate the airport. Storage of non-aeronautical items in hangars has become a new and focal interest of the FAA. On May 23, 2011, the FAA issued a Director’s Determination in Valley Aviation Services v. City of Glendale, FAA Docket No. 16-09-06,which found Glendale Municipal Airport, the sponsor, to be in violation of its federal grant assurances for allowing non-aeronautical use of airport hangars for storing non-aviation items.

Grant Assurance 19

Specifically, the Director found the Glendale in violation of Grant Assurance 19, Operation and Maintenance, by allowing non-aeronautical use of airport hangars for storing non-aviation items and for operating non-aviation relating industries. As explained in the decision, “Grant Assurance 19, Operation and Maintenance, obligates the airport sponsor to operate the airport in a safe and serviceable condition all times. This assurance prohibits a sponsor from causing or permitting any activity or action on the airport that would interfere with its use for airport purposes.” The Director also found Glendale in violation of Grant Assurance 29, Airport Layout Plan, and 49 U.S.C. § 47131, in that the Glendale’s ALP did not correctly reflect the aeronautical and non-aeronautical uses of the airport property.

Since this determination, the FAA has provided further clarification. Specifically, on February 23, 2012 (PDF), the FAA sent a letter to the Glendale Airport Pilots Association. Specifically, the association wanted to know whether “the existence of non-aeronautical items in the above hangar with a housed aircraft constitute a violation associated with the Grant Assurances.” The FAA was clear in its response that storage of non-aeronautical items in hangars is prohibited even if the hangar is also used to house an aircraft:

Aeronautical Use

If the hangars are located in an area designated as “aeronautical use” on an Airport Layout Plan (ALP), or in the case where there is no ALP and the hangars are located on airport property, then the hangars must be used for aeronautical purposes unless otherwise approved by the FAA. Where the hangars are so located, the fact that the hangars are “privately built and privately owned” is not relevant to the obligations set forth in the standard airport sponsor assurances. Storing non-aeronautical items in hangars would not constitute an aeronautical use and would be inconsistent with our policy guidance. In such situation, the airport sponsor could be found in violation of, among others, Grant Assurance No. 19, “Operations and Maintenance.”

Based on the FAA’s determinations and guidance, the City must fulfill its obligation to ensure the hangars are used for aeronautical purposes by prohibiting non-aeronautical uses in the hangar.

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