by Hal Davis
Airport Compliance Manager – WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer – Aug/Sept 2016
What you can and can’t keep in a hangar tends to be a contentious topic on many airports. Adding to the frustration of hangar owners and airport managers alike, is the amount of misinformation out there. Much of the misinformation stems from evolving and varying interpretations of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policy and grant assurances.
Recognizing that additional clarification was needed, the FAA published a new policy on June 15, 2016, which clarifies and amends previous hangar storage rules. You can read the policy at: http://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_compliance/hangar_use.
The FAA compliance office also has assembled a list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding the policy, which can be found on the same web page.
Before we get to the rules themselves, it’s important to note why FAA has a hangar storage policy to begin with.
Airports that accept federal airport improvement grants must agree to comply with numerous grant assurances. The purpose of these assurances is to protect the public’s investment in the facility from misuse, disrepair, etc. Included in these assurances is the obligation to use hangars and other designated aeronautical facilities on the airport exclusively for aeronautical purposes. Without this requirement, non-aeronautical activities may block potential aeronautical users from having access to the airport.
The FAA’s hangar storage policy applies to any airport that has received federal airport improvement grants or has acquired property under the Surplus Property Act. Furthermore, whether or not a hangar is airport-owned or privately-owned does not affect the airport sponsor’s agreement with the FAA and the requirement to use aeronautically obligated airport property for aeronautical purposes.
When compared to the previous policy, the new hangar storage rules include two significant changes. First, it is now acceptable to store non-aeronautical items in hangars provided they do not interfere with the hangar’s primary aeronautical purpose. Second, non-commercial construction of amateur-built or kit-built aircraft is now recognized as an aeronautical use.
The rules themselves are fairly straight-forward and can be summarized as follows:
• All hangars must be used for an aeronautical purpose. FAA considers the following uses aeronautical:
• Storage of active aircraft;
• Shelter for maintenance, repair, or refurbishment of aircraft, but not the indefinite storage of non-operational aircraft;
• Non-commercial construction of amateur-built or kit-built aircraft;
• Storage of aircraft handling equipment, (e.g. tow bar, glider tow equipment, work benches, tools and materials used to service aircraft); and
• Storage of materials related to an aeronautical activity (e.g. balloon and skydiving equipment, office equipment, teaching tools).
• Provided the hangar is used primarily for an aeronautical purpose, an airport may permit non-aeronautical items to be stored in hangars provided they do not interfere with the aeronautical use of the hangar.
• While airports may develop more restrictive rules, FAA would not consider non-aeronautical storage to interfere with the aeronautical use of the hangar unless the items:
• Impede the movement of the aircraft in and out of the hangar;
• Displace the aeronautical contents of the hangar. A vehicle parked at the hangar while the vehicle owner is using the aircraft would not be considered as displacing the aircraft;
• Impede access to other aeronautical contents of the hangar;
• Are used for a non-aeronautical business or municipal agency function (including storage of inventory); and
• Are stored in violation of airport rules and regulations, lease provisions, building codes or local ordinances.
• Hangars cannot be used as a residence. The FAA differentiates between crew rest areas and a hangar residence in that the former are designed to be used for overnight/resting periods for crewmembers and not as a permanent or even temporary residence.
• If the airport has empty hangars with no demand for aeronautical use, the airport can rent hangar space for temporary, non-aeronautical storage provided:
• The non-aeronautical storage is pre-approved by FAA;
• A fair market value commercial rental rate is charged; and
• The hangar reverts to aeronautical use as soon as there is demand.
The policy goes into effect July 1, 2017. Until then, airports are encouraged to begin taking any necessary steps toward compliance such as updating airport rules and regulations to reflect the new FAA policy.
While no one expects the new policy to put an end to all hangar storage problems, it is clearly a step in the right direction. By taking a common-sense approach to hangar storage, it should now be easier for airport managers and tenants to resolve the majority of hangar storage disputes.