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U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington Strikes Down FAA Decision to Change Informal Runway Use Program at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport

On May 11, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington struck down a FAA decision to change an informal runway use program at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. The Court held that the FAA should have conducted environmental review under NEPA before informing the Airport that it was going to make increased use of a runway in a manner inconsistent with the Airport's approved Part 150 Noise Compatibility Program. The Court rejected the FAA's assertions that an informal letter was not a "final agency order" and was not subject to judicial review. The Court's decision could affect the ability of the FAA to make changes in informal runway use programs but also may discourage the FAA from approving such programs in the first place.