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August 4, 2014

FAA Proposed Rule Making for Hangar Use

The FAA says most of the work involved in building an airplane is a "non-aeronautical use" and it has singled out homebuilders in a new proposed policy statement issued July 22. Policy on the Non-Aeronautical Use Of Airport Hangars says homebuilders will have to build the components of their projects elsewhere and can only move to a hangar for final assembly. Comments are being accepted until Sept. 5 and can be submitted online citing docket number FAA-2014-0463. EAA says the FAA's proposed policy on hangar use at federally funded airports is a lot better than the previous rule and, for the first time, offers homebuilders some protection. "It is in fact an improvement," Doug  Macnair, EAA's VP of Government told AVweb."It actually protects our community for the first time." Macnair said the issue came to a head two years ago after a dispute at Glendale Airport near Phoenix brought the hangar use issue to the FAA's attention. The dispute prompted an audit of airport operations all over the country that found numerous violations of the "extremely restrictive" existing policy, which is that hangars are for airplanes and the items needed to keep them flying. Period. He said EAA has been at the forefront of an effort to keep the FAA from applying the letter of the existing law to airports while negotiating with the feds to come up with a policy that more realistically represents the activities at airports. "At one point we even had a discussion about whether book shelves should be allowed." So, while building the subcomponents of airplanes is not allowed under the proposed policy, the ability to get the airplane ready for flight will be enshrined and Macnair says that's a huge win. "You have to realize where we're coming from," he said. "It [building aircraft] was not legal to do at all." Along the way, Macnair said the FAA relented on the incidental storage and placement of a reasonable amount of non-aeronautical items in the hangar as long as they don't get in the way of the aviation that is supposed to go on there. So furniture, appliances and other things that help keep the "friendly environment" going at airports will be OK. My first read of this led me to think that this was not good for aviation, but further research pointed out that there are many, many hangars at our airports that have no aircraft present in them, with some being used to run even non-aviation businesses.  Unfortunately, such use of hangars has come back to haunt those of us who truly use hangars for aviation. Please take a moment to submit your comments on docket number FAA-2014-0463.

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