News & Publications

Airport Law Alert – 2015 Year in Review

Although 2015 did not include any landmark developments in airport law, the year saw a number of significant, if incremental, developments in the law. As always, even incremental changes present new challenges to airport operators and users and their counsel as we seek a measure of legal certainty in a dynamic industry.

Perhaps most importantly, in late September, Congress temporarily extended FAA authorization and funding through the end of March 2016, but failed to pass a long term reauthorization measure. Without long-term authorization, FAA faces uncertainty amongst a divided Congress and upcoming presidential election.

Also of particular significance, the FAA issued new regulations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, or drones) while it considers a comprehensive UAS regulatory regime. With a rapidly increasing interest in UAS among users, airports, municipal governments, and privacy advocates, definitive federal regulation is an important step in clarifying the rules under which these aircraft will operate.

This Alert contains short articles on these and other important developments in airport law in 2015, and also includes: a listing of principal cases decided last year; new FAA rules, policies, and guidance; and reports, studies, and articles of particular interest to airport legal professionals. The Alert also includes a look-ahead to some of the important legal issues we expect to see in 2016.

We hope you find this Alert useful in your efforts to remain current in the always-evolving legal and regulatory framework that governs airports.

Federal Aviation Administration Makes Progress on Regulatory Framework for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems


On December 16, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published an Interim Final Rule aimed initially at recreational owners of  small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) over 250 grams (approximately 8.8 ounces) and up to 55 pounds, but applicable to all owners of sUAS.  This interim final rule establishes a new process for registration and marking of sUAS through a web-based registration system.

To register using the new system, all sUAS owners must:

  • Satisfy citizenship or permanent residence requirements;
  • Establish an account on the FAA’s web-based registration system;
  • Provide their name, physical address and mailing address, and e-mail address;
  • Pay a $5.00 fee (waived through January 20, 2016); and
  • Review a summary of operating guidelines.

Registered users will be issued a Certificate of Aircraft Registration with a unique registration number that must be used to mark all sUAS they own. Users purchasing or obtaining a sUAS on or after December 21, 2015, will be required to register prior to its first operation. Owners that purchased their sUAS prior to December 21, 2015, will have sixty days—until February 19, 2016—to register.

The new rule will appear in a new section of the FAA regulations at 14 C.F.R. Part 48.

While the new registration system announced by the interim final rule will be initially limited to only hobby and recreational users, the FAA will permit other types of sUAS users, including public entities, to participate beginning March 31, 2016. These users will be required to also provide the manufacturer, model, and serial number, and pay a $5.00 fee for each sUAS that will not be operated exclusively for hobby or recreation. The FAA will issue a unique registration number to each sUAS that is so registered.

The FAA’s interim final rule follows the Department of Transportation’s October 23, 2015, announcement that it would begin requiring the registration of sUAS, and recommendations provided to the FAA by the UAS Registration Task Force on November 23, 2015. Comments on the FAA’s interim final rule are due by January 15, 2016.  The FAA will address these comments in promulgating a final rule on sUAS registration.

Flight Restrictions and Operations

In 2012, Congress enacted the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (FMRA), which required FAA to enact UAS regulations. FMRA Section 333 required FAA to allow exemptions on a case-by-case basis until it issued the final rules. In February 2015, FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking pursuant to this authority, proposing regulations to govern the operation of sUAS for commercial purposes in the National Airspace System (NAS). While the rulemaking is pending, FAA has seen demand for exemptions under Section 333 grow by leaps and bounds. In response, FAA has streamlined the process for obtaining an exemption for commercial operations and granted over 2800 exemptions as of this writing. Each Section 333 exemption now includes a “blanket” Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), which permits the sUAS owner to fly anywhere below 200’ other than restricted airspace. If an owner’s proposed operations do not conform to the limits of the blanket COA, the owner must obtain an individual COA. Until a final sUAS rule is adopted, the interim streamlined review provides the means by which persons seeking to use sUAS for commercial purposes can obtain authorization to legally operate their devices.

In October 2015, the FAA issued a “Notice” regarding operations of UAS in the NAS which summarized many aspects of allowable operations. Most significant to airport operators is the section regarding “model aircraft.” This classification of UAS covers small, recreational aircraft such as those available to the general public. The FAA reiterated that sUAS used as model aircraft are subject only to “guidelines” and not to any specific, mandatory regulatory operational restrictions. These guidelines, as detailed in the Notice, suggest that any operator of a “model aircraft” within five miles of an airport, “contact the airport operator and control tower” before flight.  Note that no authority is given to the airport operator to prohibit such proposed UAS flight.

In early January 2016, FAA also released a smartphone app named B4UFLY that tells users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the NAS where they may want to operate their sUAS.  B4UFLY also generally advises users to contact airport operators and control towers in advance of operations within five miles of an airport.

Federal Aviation Administration Sees Shift in Senior Positions

The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 saw changes in senior FAA attorneys and staff with whom airport lawyers have frequent interaction.  Randy Fiertz, the Director of the FAA’s Office of Compliance (the office responsible for overseeing compliance with grant obligations and adjudicating Part 16 cases) left Washington, DC for the Northwest Mountain Region in Seattle.  Also changing positions recently have been Jon Cross, the Branch Manager for the Airports Law Branch in the Chief Counsel’s office (who took another position in the Chief Counsel’s office that is not directly involved with airports) and Daphne Fuller, the FAA’s Assistant Chief Counsel for Airports and Environmental Law.  Fuller has taken a policy position elsewhere in the FAA Airports Division.

Federal Aviation Administration Continues Enforcement of Federal Law on Use of Local and State Taxes on Aviation Fuel

Under federal law, any taxes imposed on aviation fuel must be used for airport purposes. The only exception to this rule is for aviation fuel taxes that were in effect on December 30, 1987. The limitation even applies to general purpose sales taxes that are not specifically targeted at aviation fuel, but rather apply more broadly to a wide range of sales transactions.

Prior to late 2014, FAA enforcement of this rule was virtually nonexistent. However, FAA recently published formal policy statements declaring that enforcement would soon begin, and required state and local governments which impose aviation fuel taxes to submit compliance plans by December 2015. Though this deadline has passed, there are likely many municipalities that have yet to submit compliance plans.

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell has prepared a short briefing paper on this issue.  This briefing paper contains more information about the aviation fuel tax policy, as well as links to the relevant FAA documents.

Late Breaking − DHS Again Postpones Enforcement of Real ID Laws

The Real ID Act, enacted by Congress in 2005, provides that state driver’s licenses must meet federal requirements in order to be used as identification for the purposes of commercial air travel. Citing privacy concerns, many states have not adjusted their licensing procedures to conform to the Real ID Act. For the past ten years, the Department of Homeland Security has taken a relatively lax approach to enforcement of these rules. DHS appeared poised to begin enforcement against several states which are non-compliant with the Act – potentially precluding passengers with ID from those states from travelling on commercial aircraft (unless they can produce other government-approved identification). However, in early January 2016, DHS announced that it would again postpone enforcement until January 22, 2018. Even then, only a small handful of states would be noncompliant, as many states have secured compliance extensions until October 2020. Thus, air travelers have at least another two years before they are required to carry compliant ID.

Things to Watch for in 2016

FAA Reauthorization

In late September 2015, Congress kicked the can down the road on FAA funding, reauthorizing the agency for six months, until March 31, 2016. This sets the stage for future legislation to determine how much money FAA will receive in the upcoming years, and under what conditions. With a new Speaker of the House, a sharply divided Congress, and an impending presidential election, this could potentially be an acrimonious political battle.  Among the most contentious issues will be proposals by the airport industry to increase the ceiling on Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) (which is being aggressively opposed by A4A, the airline lobby), and various competing proposals to privatize the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization or to create it as an independent government agency. Other issues concerning NextGen implementation and environmental review as well as revisions to the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding formulae are also likely to receive considerable attention.  If any of these proposals become law, each would have significant ripple effects throughout the airport industry.

Continued Development of Regulations − Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

As noted above, the public comment period on FAA’s final interim rule on sUAS registration ends on January 15, 2016. After FAA considers those comments, the agency will issue a permanent final rule on this issue. FAA still has not acted to promulgate a final sUAS operational regulation, but FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has stated that the agency expects the rule to be finalized in late spring 2016. When a permanent final rule on either of these topics has been published, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell will prepare and disseminate a Special Alert to analyze the new regulations.

Safety Management Systems

The FAA’s much-delayed regulations to implement Safety Management Systems at airports are expected to be re-released in draft form early in 2016.  The original proposed regulations, issued in 2010, were roundly criticized by the airport industry groups, with the result that FAA pulled back and promised to revise the proposal significantly.  The proposed regulations will be available for a new comment period and will deserve close reading by all commercial service airports.

NextGen Implementation

As the FAA accelerates implementation of the new NextGen satellite-based navigation system, expect to see increased attention to the local impacts of these procedures.  While federal law exempts implementation of most of these procedures from environmental review, the agency has been criticized for the manner in which it has informed and involved the public. The FAA has, as a result, increased its public outreach efforts in places like Southern California and it appears likely that those efforts may become more common as part of NextGen implementation.  Although NextGen is an FAA initiative, airport sponsors are inevitably going to become involved in discussions about new NextGen flight tracks.

Litigation (listed in reverse chronological order)

Court Decisions

Preemption. In re Estate of Becker, 2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 3071 (Wash. App. Dec. 28, 2015) (finding state standard of care related to product defects preempted by regulations focused upon performance and safety standards for aircraft engine fuel systems).

Private Pilots. Flytenow, Inc. v. FAA, No. 14-1168 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 18, 2015) (upholding FAA decision barring private pilots from participating in "ride-sharing" services).

Preemption. In re Changes in Physical Structures & Use at Burlington Int’l Airport for F-35A, 117 A.3d 457 (Vt. Mar. 6, 2015), cert denied sub. nom., Joseph v. City of Burlington, 193 L. Ed. 2d 350 (Nov. 9, 2015) (denying petition to review Vermont Supreme Court’s finding that state land-use permitting statute and noise mitigation requirements were preempted by federal law).

Environmental Review. City of Mukilteo v. Snohomish Cnty., No. 15-2-06802-4SEA (Wa. Super. Ct. Oct. 15, 2015) (granting summary judgment to county upon finding that it did not violate State Environmental Protection Act by not conducting environmental review prior to entering into lease option with developer).

Separation of Powers. Corr v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth.,740 F.3d 295 (4th Cir. 2014), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 29 (Oct. 5, 2015) (denying petition to review constitutionality of MWAA under separation of powers doctrine).

Workers’ Compensation and Tort Liability. Slora v. Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, Inc., 173 So. 3d 1099 (Fla. App. 2d. Aug. 26, 2015) (finding that an air show operator which was granted an FAA certificate of waiver and then sublet work to a security firm did not qualify as a "contractor" immune from tort liability under Florida’s workers’ compensation statute).

Labor. Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac, 357 P.3d 1040 (Wash. Aug. 20, 2015), reh’g denied 2015 Wash. LEXIS 1337 (Wash. Nov. 30, 2015) (holding that a City minimum wage law applied to SeaTac International Airport and was not preempted by any national labor or transportation statutes).

Inverse Condemnation. HRT Enters. v. City of Detroit, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106327 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 13, 2015) (granting plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on inverse condemnation claim where defendant municipality had developed an ALP which placed the land in question within the FAA-standard building restriction line and runway visibility line).

Landing Fees. Pofolk Aviation Haw., Inc. v. DOT for the State, 354 P.3d 436 (Haw. June 29, 2015) (affirming state DOT’s authority to impose reasonable landing fees at federal airfields, insofar as they do not interfere with federal operations and are not considered a "rule" for the purpose of the statute).

Access Restrictions. Friends of the E. Hampton Airport, Inc. v. Town of E. Hampton, No. 15-CV-2246 (E.D.N.Y. June 26, 2015) (denying preliminary injunctions for two flight curfew ordinances, issuing preliminary injunction for once a week flight ordinance).

Preemption. Lewis v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 5725 (Tex. App. June 4, 2015) (in a nuisance action by a private landowner, upholding denial of request for injunctive relief (modified flight paths) as preempted by federal law, but not ruling on whether damages claims were preempted).

Nuisance. Citizens for Quiet Skies v. Mile-Hi Skydiving Center, Inc., No. 13-CV-31563 (Boulder Cnty, CO Dist Ct. May 21, 2015) (denying nuisance and negligence claims arising from over flights by skydiving operator).

NEPA. BRRAM, Inc. v. FAA, No. 14-02686 (D.N.J. May 18, 2015) (dismissing claims that failure to conduct noise analysis for new flight routes violated NEPA).

Rights-of-Way. Bakers Constr. Servs. v. Greeneville-Greene Cnty. Airport Auth., No. E2014-01395 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 14, 2015) (affirming breach of contract when airport failed to secure rights-of-way for runway expansions yet demanded work to proceed subject to Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act deadline).

Qualified Immunity. Rogers v. Louisville-Winston County Airport Auth., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41692 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 31, 2015) (finding qualified immunity for airport officials who were sued for violating due process and equal protection rights when denying hangar space to individual).

Security Fees. Airlines for America v. TSA, No. 14-1143 (D.C. Cir. March 10, 2015) (affirming TSA regulation assessing security fee on the domestic leg of a one-way, multi-leg flight that originated overseas).

Jurisdiction. National Federation of the Blind v. FAA, No. 14-00085 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2015) (transferring case to D.C. Circuit, which has asserted jurisdiction to review final rule as a final "order" under 49 U.S.C. §46110).

Zoning. Boch v. Tomassian, No. 13 MISC 475253 (Mass. Land Ct. 2015) (affirming zoning board’s authority to regulate helicopter landings on private land even when ordinance is not approved by the state aeronautics board; furthermore helipads are not a customary accessory use to residential property).

Environmental Review. Matter of Committee to Stop Airport Expansion v. Wilkinson, 126 A.D.3d 788 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dep’t 2015) (affirming Town of East Hampton’s fulfilling of state NEPA requirements for its Master Plan and Airport Layout Plan updates).

Jurisdiction. Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust v. United States, 120 Fed. Cl. 254 (Fed. Cl. 2015) (finding no subject matter jurisdiction for dispute over FAA noise abatement grants under the Tucker Act, and transferring matter to the 10th Circuit).

Employment. Dep’t of Homeland Sec. v. MacLean, 135 S. Ct. 913 (U.S. 2015) (establishing that TSA agents may only be dismissed for disclosures prohibited by statute but not those barred in regulations).

Pending Cases

Area Navigation. Citizens Assn. of Georgetown, et al v. FAA, et al., No. 15-1285 (D.C. Cir. Filed Aug. 24, 2015) (challenging RNAV procedures in the D.C. Metroplex area).

Passenger Facility Charges. Hillsborough Cty. Aviation Auth. v. FAA, No. 15-1238 (D.C. Cir. Filed July 24, 2105) (appealing FAA’s denial of Passenger Facility Charge authorization to construct an automated people mover at Tampa International Airport).

Access Restrictions. Friends of the East Hampton Airport, Inc., et al. v. Town of East Hampton, No. 15-2334 (2nd Cir. Filed July 22, 2015) (appeal and cross-appeal of granting and denial of preliminary injunctions of various airport access restrictions).

Area Navigation. City of Phoenix v. Huerta, No. 15-1158 (D.C. Cir. Filed June 1, 2015) (challenging RNAV procedures in Phoenix).

Area Navigation. Lyons, et al. v. FAA, No. 14-72991 (9th Cir. Filed Sept. 26, 2014) (challenging FAA’s approval of RNAV procedures in Northern California).

Airport Real Estate. City of Santa Monica v. United States, No. 14-55583 (9th Cir. filed Apr. 11, 2014) (appeal from ruling that City’s quiet title action for property underlying airport was barred by statute of limitations).

Gate Allocation. City of Dallas v. Delta Airlines, Inc., et al., No. 3:15-CV-02069 (N.D. Tex. Filed June 17, 2015) (seeking declaratory judgment regarding gate allocation at Love Field following the expiration of certain provisions of the Wright Amendment).

Gate Allocation. In the Matter of Compliance with Federal Obligations by the City of Dallas, Texas, FAA Docket No. 16-15-10 (Notice of Investigation served Aug. 7, 2015) (FAA investigation into possible grant assurance violations related to a failure to accommodate air carrier requesting gate space).

Administrative Decisions

Grant Assurance Compliance Dates. Director’s Determination, Nat’l Business Aircraft Association, et al. v. City of Santa Monica, FAA Docket No. 16-14-04 (Dec. 4, 2015) (declaratory judgment holding that a an amendment to a previously existing AIP grant was akin to an entirely new grant, and extended the compliance dates for grant assurances to 20 years from the acceptance of that amendment).

Skydiving Safety. Director’s Determination, Skydive Myrtle Beach, Inc. v. Horry Cty. Dept. of Airports, FAA Docket No. 16-14-05 (Oct. 7, 2015) (finding no violations of Grant Assurance 22 where the airport restricted access to skydivers, but finding a potential violation of Grant Assurance 19 if the airport did not take sufficient steps to curtail unsafe operations).

Minimum Standards. Director’s Determination, SPA Rental, LLC v. Somerset – Pulaski Cty. Airport Bd., FAA Docket No. 16-13-02 (Sept. 1, 2015) (finding no violations of Grant Assurance 22, 23, or 24 where the airport enforced uniform minimum standards as to all similarly situated operators).

Lease Renewals. Director’s Determination, Tropical Aviation Ground Services, Inc. v. Broward County, FL, FAA Docket No. 16-12-15 (April 27, 2015) (airport operator not in violation of Assurances 22, 23, 24, 30, 37, or 39 for refusing to renew lease with air carrier and actions to enforce local ordinances related to derelict aircraft).

Noise Mitigation. Director’s Determination, Virginia One Dev., Inc. v. City of Atlanta, GA, FAA Docket No. 16-12-09 (Jan. 26, 2015) (airport operator did not violate Assurances 5, 16, 21, or 35 by not acquiring property identified on the airport Noise Exposure Map as being impacted by aircraft noise).

Lease Renewals. Final Agency Decision and Order, McDonough Properties, L.L.C. v. City of Wetumpka, AL, FAA Docket No. 16-12-11 (Jan. 15, 2015) (affirming Director’s Determination dismissing claims under Assurances 22, 23, and 24 challenging airport operator’s decision to renew leases for a one-year tier only pending possible closure of the airport).

Federal Legislation

Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, Pub. L. 114-113 (enacted Dec. 18, 2015) (among other purposes, requiring FAA to "complete and implement a plan which enhances community involvement techniques and proactively addresses concerns associated with performance based navigation projects [Next Gen]," and submit that plan to various Congressional committees).

Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-55 (enacted Sept. 30, 2015) (FAA reauthorization for six months, expiring March 31, 2016).

Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-50 (enacted Sept. 24, 2015) (to improve intergovernmental planning for and communication during security incidents at domestic airports, and for other purposes).

Federal Rules, Orders, and Guidance

Department of Transportation and FAA

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Stage 5 Airplane Noise Standards, Docket No. FAA-2015-3782 (Federal Register publication scheduled Jan. 14, 2016).

Standard Operating Procedure 8.0, Runway Safety Area Determination (eff. Jan. 1, 2016).

Draft Advisory Circular No. 150/5345-43H, Specification for Obstruction Lighting Equipment (Dec. 18, 2015).

Draft Advisory Circular No. 150/5000-XX, State Block Grant Program (SBGP) (Dec. 1, 2015).

Order No. 5010.4A, Airport Data and Information Management (Nov. 30, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5345-42H, Specification for Airport Light Bases, Transformer Housings, Junction Boxes, and Accessories (Nov. 6, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5200-28E, Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) for Airport Operators (Oct. 8, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5345-44K, Specification for Runway and Taxiway Signs (Oct. 8, 2015).

Standard Operating Procedure 7.0, Airport Improvement Program Construction Project Change Orders (eff. Oct. 1, 2015).

Standard Operating Procedure 6.0, FAA Review and Approval of an Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Grant Application (eff. Oct. 1, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5100-14E, Architectural, Engineering, and Planning Consultant Services for Airport Grant Projects (Change 1) (Sept. 25, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5370-12B, Quality Management for Federally Funded Airport Construction Projects (Sept. 14, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 91-57A, Model Aircraft Operating Standards (Sept. 2, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5210-20A, Ground Vehicle Operations to include Taxiing or Towing an Aircraft on Airports (Sept. 1, 2015).

Memorandum, Reminder of Responsibilities for FAA Personnel and Airport Sponsors for Protecting Approach and Departure Surfaces (Aug. 18, 2015).

Program Guidance Letter No. 15-1, Airport Layout Plan (ALP) Updates and Airport GIS Surveys (Aug. 7, 2015).

Final Rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports), 80 Fed. Reg. 46508 (Aug. 5, 2015).

Final Notice, Implementation of Legislative Categorical Exclusion for Environmental Review of Performance Based Navigation Procedures, 80 Fed. Reg. 46086 (Aug. 3, 2015).

Addendum to AC 150/5345-53D Airport Lighting Equipment Certification Program (July 17, 2015).

Notice, Stage 3 Compliance for Jets Weighing 75,000 Pounds or Less After December 31, 2015, 80 Fed. Reg. 42,021 (July 16, 2015).

Order No. 1050.1F, Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures (July 16, 2015).

Order No. 1050.1F, Desk Reference (July 2015).

Memorandum, Supplemental Guidance for Implementation of the Categorical Exclusion in Section 213(c)(1) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (July 16, 2015).

Notice of Petition; request for comments, Petitions for Rulemaking: Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association to Amend FAA Policy Concerning Flying Club Operations at Federally-Obligated Airports, 80 Fed. Reg. 41,447 (July 15, 2015).

Errata Sheet for Advisory Circular 150/5370-10G, Standards for Specifying Construction of Airports (July 13, 2015).

Draft AC 150/5300-19, Airport Data and Information Program (June 12, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5210-17C+, Programs for Training of Aircraft Rescue and Fireighting Personnel (June 12, 2015).

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Changes to the Application Requirements for Authorization to Operate in Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum Airspace, 80 Fed. Reg. 30,394 (May 28, 2015).

Direct Final Rule; Prohibition of Fixed-Wing Special Visual Flight Rules Operations at Washington-Dulles International Airport; Withdrawal, 80 Fed. Reg. 28,538 (May 19, 2015).

Press Release, FAA To Re-Evaluate Method for Measuring Effects of Aircraft Noise (May 7, 2015).

Final Rule, New York North Shore Helicopter Route, 80 Fed. Reg. 8,242 (Feb. 17, 2015).

Advisory Circular No. 150/5070-6B, Change 2 to Airport Master Plans (Jan. 27, 2015).

Policy, U.S. State Safety Program, National Transportation Safety Board & Federal Aviation Administration (Jan. 27, 2015).

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Slot Management and Transparency: LaGuardia John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International Airports, 80 Fed. Reg. 1,274 (Jan. 8, 2015).

Department of the Interior

Proposed Rule, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revisions to the Regulations for Petitions (May 21, 2015).

Council on Environmental Quality

Draft Guidance: Social Cost of Carbon in NEPA (Dec. 2014).

Reports, Studies, and Articles

U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA

Office of the Inspector General, Efficiency of FAA’s Air Traffic Control Towers Ranges Widely (Aug. 2015).

Federal Aviation Administration, The Economic Impact of Civil Aviation on the U.S. Economy (Jan. 2015).

U.S. Government Accountability Office

Federal Aviation Administration: Commercial Space Launch Industry Developments Present Multiple Challenges, GAO-15-706 (Sept. 21, 2015).

General Aviation: Observations Related to Liability Insurance Requirements and Coverage for Aircraft Owners, GAO 15-740 (Sept. 9, 2015).

Next Generation Air Transportation System: Improved Risk Analysis Could Strengthen FAA’s Global Interoperability Efforts, GAO 15-608 (Aug. 28, 2015).

Unmanned Aerial Systems: FAA Continues Progress toward Integration into the National Airspace, GAO 15-610 (Aug. 17, 2015).

Aviation Security: TSA Has Taken Steps to Improve Vetting of Airport Workers, GAO-15-704T (Jun. 2015).

Airport Finance: Information on Funding Sources and Planned Capital Development, GAO-15-306 (Apr. 2015).

Airport Funding: Changes in Aviation Activity Are Reflected in Reduced Capacity Concerns, GAO-15-498T (Apr. 2015).

Commercial Aviation: Raising Passenger Facility Charges Would Increase Airport Funding, but Other Effects Less Certain, GAO-15-107 (Dec. 2014).

Transportation Research Board, Airport Cooperative Research Program

Legal Research Digests

Legal Research Digest 26: Regulations Affecting the Exercise of First Amendment Activities at Airports (Aug. 2015).

Legal Research Digest 25: Analysis of Federal Laws, Regulations, Case Law, and Survey of Existing Airport NPDES Permits Regarding Tenant-Operator Responsibilities under NPDES and Stormwater Management BMPS under Owner/Airport’s Operating Permits (Aug. 2015).

Legal Research Digest 24: Sovereign Immunity for Public Airport Operations (Apr. 2015).

Legal Research Digest 23: A Guide for Compliance with Grant Agreement Obligations to Provide Reasonable Access to an AIP-Funded Public Use General Aviation Airport (Feb. 2015).


Report 151 (Pre-Publication Draft): Developing a Business Case for Renewable Energy at Airports (Dec. 2015).

Report 147: Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Risk Assessment for Airports (Nov. 2015).

Report 146: Commercial Ground Transportation at Airports: Best Practices (Oct. 2015).

Report 145: Applying an SMS Approach to Wildlife Hazard Management (Oct. 2015).

Report 144: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer (Sept. 2015).

Report 143: Guidebook for Air Cargo Facility Planning and Development (Oct. 2015).

Report 142: Effects of Airline Industry Changes on Small- and Non-Hub Airports (Sept. 2015).

Report 141: Renewable Energy as an Airport Revenue Source (Aug. 2015).

Report 140: Guidebook on Best Practices for Airport Cybersecurity (Jul. 2015).

Report 138, Volume 1: Preventive Maintenance at General Aviation Airports Volume 1: Primer (Jul. 2015).

Report 138, Volume 2: Preventive Maintenance at General Aviation Airports Volume 2: Guidebook (Jul. 2015).

Report 136: Implementing Integrated Self-Service at Airports (Jul. 2015).

Report 139: Optimizing Airport Building Operations and Maintenance Through Retrocommissioning: A Whole-Systems Approach (Jun. 2015).

Report 137: Guidebook for Advancing Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) at Airports (Jun. 2015).

Report 135: Understanding Airport Air Quality and Public Health Studies Related to Airports (Jun. 2015).

Report 134: Applying Whole Effluent Toxicity Testing to Aircraft Deicing Runoff (Jun. 2015).

Report 132: The Role of U.S. Airports in the National Economy (May 2015).

Report 131: A Guidebook for Safety Risk Management for Airports (May 2015).

Report 130: Guidebook for Airport Terminal Restroom Planning and Design (May 2015).

Report 118: Integrating Aviation and Passenger Rail Planning (Apr. 2015).

Report 133: Best Practices Guidebook for Preparing Lead Emission Inventories from Piston-Powered Aircraft with the Emission Inventory Analysis Tool (Mar. 2015).

Report 129: Evaluating Methods for Counting Aircraft Operations at Non-Towered Airports (Mar. 2015).

Report 128: Alternative IT Delivery Methods and Best Practices for Small Airports (Mar. 2015).

Report 127: A Guidebook for Mitigating Disruptive WiFi Interference at Airports (Mar. 2015).

Report 124: Airport Parking Garage Lighting Solutions (Mar. 2015).

Report 126: A Guidebook for Increasing Diverse and Small Business Participation in Airport Business Opportunities (Jan. 2015).

Report 125: Balancing Airport Stormwater and Bird Hazard Management (Jan. 2015).

Report 123: A Guidebook for Airport Winter Operations (Jan. 2015).

Report 122: Innovative Airport Responses to Threatened and Endangered Species (Jan. 2015).

Synthesis Reports

Synthesis 68: Strategies for Maintaining Air Service (Sept. 2015).

Synthesis 67: Airside Snow Removal Practices for Small Airports with Limited Budgets (Jul. 2015).

Synthesis 66: Lessons Learned from Airport Sustainability Plans (Jul. 2015).

Synthesis 65: Practices to Develop Effective Stakeholder Relationships at Smaller Airports (Jul. 2015).

Synthesis 64: Issues Related to Accommodating Animals Traveling Through Airports (Jun. 2015).

Synthesis 62: Cell Phone Lots at Airports (Jun. 2015).

Synthesis 63: Overview of Airport Fueling Operations (May 2015).

Synthesis 61: Practices in Preserving and Developing Public-Use Seaplane Bases (May 2015).

Synthesis 60: Airport Emergency Post-Event Recovery Practices (May 2015).

Web-Only Documents

Web-Only Document 23: Guidance on Successful Computer Maintenance Management System (CMMS) Selection and Practices (Aug. 2015).

General Articles

C. Bray, BBA Aviation to Buy Landmark Aviation for $2.1 Billion, N.Y. Times (Sept. 23, 2015).

S. Fidell, A Review of US Aircraft Noise Regulatory Policy, 11 Acoustics Today 26 (Fall 2015).

D. Meyers & P. Figg, Don’t Get Your Construction Project Grounded: Navigating the FAA’s Hazard Determination Process, 28 Air & Space L. (Fall 2015) (subscription required).

Civil Air Navigation Serv. Org. & Airports Council Int’l, Managing the Impacts of Aviation Noise (Sept. 2015)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Pending Cases

Plawinski v. FAA, No. 15-cv-06365 (N.D. Ill. Filed July 21, 2015) (alleging FAA improperly withheld agency records pertaining to exemptions for airworthiness certificates for drones).

FAA Rules, Orders, and Guidance

Fact Sheet, State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (Dec. 17, 2015).

Interim Final Rule, Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft, 80 Fed. Reg. 78594 (Dec. 16, 2015).

Notice and Request for Comment, Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: B4UFLY Smartphone App, 80 Fed. Reg. 73265 (Nov. 24, 2015).

Task Force Report, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration (Nov. 21, 2015).

Clarification and Request for Information, Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS, 80 Fed. Reg. 63912 (Oct. 22, 2015).

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 80 Fed. Reg. 9,544 (Feb. 23, 2015).

Reports, Studies, and Articles

C. Kang, F.A.A. Drone Laws Start to Clash With Stricter Local Rules, N.Y. Times (Dec. 27, 2015).

Transportation Research Bd., Airport Coop. Research Program, Report 144: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) at Airports: A Primer (Sept. 2015).

United States GAO, Unmanned Aerial Systems: FAA Continues Progress toward Integration into the National Airspace, GAO 15-610 (Aug. 17, 2015).

PDF of this Airport Law Alert is available.