Congressional Intervention on Constituent Airports risk the National Air Transportation System

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Congress is considering Reauthorization of the FAA. While that bill is being written and placed before the Members, there seems to be an inordinate number of local interventions (see below four articles) seeking to void the application of national standards to local airports.

The general rule is that Congress enacts legislation and the Executive acts following those national standards. An example of that premise is the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990. Based on that statutory guidance, the FAA promulgated the Airport Noise Compatibility Planning regulations, 14 CFR Part 150. Based on those FARs and a host of other statutes, the FAA makes decisions on local airport noise issues. Their record of review by US Courts of Appeals has been remarkably in favor of their exercise of these national criteria and processes.

If this trend of Not In My Airport (NIMA) requests continue unabated our national aviation system will be balkanized and the economic benefits of flying within the US and internationally will be harmed. It may be that your constituents have been harmed by some FAA airport decision, but if that is so, shouldn’t the relief which is being sought for this airport be applied to all similarly situated communities? The articulation of a national standard, as opposed to a local fix, is an important legislative exercise; for if such a fair criterion cannot be established, perhaps the proposed solution is not good policy.

Since 1968 Congress has passed over twenty bills which have refined the FAA’s powers over airport noise. One would assume that that body of legislation should have provided adequate guidance; if not, Members should propose amendments to the 2015 FAA Reauthorization Act, which constitute appropriate national noise policy. That is the right way to control the FAA; a series of unrelated, local exceptions does not establish national criteria, just grant local exceptions.

 

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