Town Grounds Blade Flights to East Hampton
Killing HTO by closing Fly Blade deck there
Another SMO assault?
DoT/FAA no slippery slope to Santa Monica!!!
It’s interesting how much two cities at opposite ends of the continent have the same attitude about their airports. The elected officials of both seem intent on shutting down the airports. Coincidentally, the demographics Santa Monica, CA and the statistics for East Hampton, NY are remarkably similar, but maybe there is something else in common.
East Hampton has a variation on the SMO theme. It has closed the boarding area for Fly Blade, Inc. at HTO. [Contrary to the headline in the East Hampton Star, the City did not halt the aviation APP company’s flights. FBI is neither a carrier nor an indirect carrier.] This action is primarily an inconvenience; for the APP customers will have to figure out which helicopter operator is their ride.
What is truly clever here is that the City Attorney is authorized to file a complaint at the US Department of Transportation asserting that, once again, FBI is violating 14 CFR 399.80(a) and 49 U.S.C. § 41101, which are consumer protection rules.
The 2015 Consent Order involved complex factual determinations about FBI’s alleged holding out as an air carrier, the APP as a means of reaching potential customers beyond the conceptual limits of charter flights and the way in which FBI prominently displayed its name (versus the carrier responsible for the flight). The Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings must first decide whether the complaint should go forward against FBI. For which he has the prosecutorial discretion to close or to move forward.
The timing of this issue could not have been worse for East Hampton. The Libertarians, currently occupying the Public Policy Pulpit, have expressed strong support for the use of UBER-like APPs for aviation and the FAA Reauthorization Act includes an amendment compelling the FAA to reconsider the “antiquated” holding out rule. The DOT General Counsel, Steven G. Bradbury, has heavy weight conservative credentials.
If the past (Santa Monica) is prologue, aviation interests may not want East Hampton to succeed in this first assault on HTO.
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