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Court Denies Petition Challenging FAA Decision at Opa-Locka Airport

On July 19, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review of FAA’s dismissal of BMI Salvage Corporation’s Part 16 complaint.  BMI initially alleged violation of Grant Assurance 22 (Economic Nondiscrimination) due to Miami-Dade County’s refusal to provide the company with salvage and FBO leases at Opa-Locka Airport, despite the fact that the County was providing long-term leases for other tenants.  FAA dismissed the complaint on the grounds that salvage and demolition are not aeronautical activities and that the other leaseholders were not similarly situated to BMI.  The court upheld FAA’s interpretation of its own definition of “aeronautical,” which does not explicitly include salvage and demolition.  Additionally, the court noted that the list of activities qualifying as aeronautical focus on a direct relationship to the operation of aircraft, which salvage and demolition lack.  Finally, the court determined that there was substantial evidence to support FAA’s conclusion that BMI was not similarly situated to other leaseholders, including the fact that none of the other leaseholders completed salvage or demolition work.