by Cassandra Isackson
Director, Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2018/January 2019 issue
In my previous column, I addressed “Grant Assurances,” what they are, what they do, and why we need them. This time I want to address “Minimum Standards.” While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not require minimum standards, they are directly tied to grant assurances.
Minimum standards must be met by all commercial service operators on an airport. This helps to ensure that FAA rules and regulations are met, while also ensuring safe operations, and providing opportunities for newcomers. Minimum standards also direct airport businesses training and learning, and procedures to operate at that airport while preventing favoritism and discrimination.
Every commercial service provider must be licensed and insured, and should appear on the official list posted on MnDOT’s Office of Aeronautics website. Minimum standards help create a level playing field for all commercial operators. This in turn creates a healthy business environment. I recommend that all airports should periodically review their minimum standards to see if any changes in airport operations have taken place that could have an impact on business on the airport. Airports should use caution when changing minimum standards as the FAA frowns upon changing minimum standards too often.
Keep in mind that minimum standards are tied directly to grant assurances. So, if your airport sponsors, owners, or planning agencies, etc., accept FAA financial assistance, certain assurances and obligations must be agreed upon. That requires your airport to operate in a safe and efficient manner according to the conditions specified in the assurances, some of which pertain to tenants and businesses operating on the airport.
If your airport does not have well thought out minimum standards, businesses on the airport could possibly operate in an exclusive manner. Worse yet, businesses could operate in an unsafe or illegal manner. That would not be good for the businesses or the airport, and would expose the airport manager to potentially significant problems.
If your airport does not have minimum standards, or its current standards need updating, go to our web page at: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/aero/operations/airportminimumstandards.html We have created a boilerplate minimum standards template. We put together this boilerplate document to help make it easier for an airport to get started. Each airport should review and modify the language to fit their specific needs.
Bear in mind also that minimum standards should go through a public process to be adopted. Part of that process should also include a review by the airport’s legal counsel to help ensure the language is appropriate and enforceable in the community.