Proper usage of airport buildings

GUTHRIE – At Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport in Guthrie, just beyond the taxi lanes are 88 airport hangars with corporate jets and general aviation single- and twin-engine propeller planes.

The airport has 63 T-hangars and 25 large span hangars that house their fixed base operators, corporate, maintenance/avionics/refurbishment and aircraft sales businesses. Around the state, this same setup is repeated one-hundred fold.

Hangars at the state’s 110 publicly owned airports are an important resource for airports and are highly desired and sought after by airport managers and users of the system. Currently there are thousands of airport hangars in the state and more are being built every year as general and business aviation increases in viability.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants airport sponsors and their users to know and understand that airport sponsors that have accepted federal grants (federally obligated) are required to avail their airports to public use, and are prohibited from allowing airport property, including aircraft hangars, to be used for nonaeronautical functions without previous FAA approval.

Regarding the nonaeronautical use of airport hangars, a notice of the final policy was released June 15. The final policy amends a July 2014 proposed policy that the FAA published regarding prohibited and permitted use of airport hangars.

“Airport operators, city managers and airport managers need to understand the significance of the Final Policy handed down by FAA. These hangars are, largely, on airports that are federally obligated. Consequently, airport sponsors must assume that hangar use complies with this policy,” said director Vic Bird, with the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC). “They were constructed for based aircraft and airport business, and need to be used for that purpose.”

The policy sets forth the standard for permissible nonaeronautical uses of hangars as any use that does not interfere with aeronautical activities, and, specifically, use that doesn’t impede the movement of aircraft or access, or displaces aeronautical contents of a hangar.

“Our airport hangars at Guthrie-Edmond are critical to accomplishing our first mission of serving users of our airport. When we think about airport hangars, the nonaviation minded person may think they are more or less barns used to house airplanes. They are so much more than that,” said Schellon Stanley, director of Guthrie Edmond Regional Airport. “Hangars have code and fire sprinkler requirements, construction and allowable area provisions and exterior wall fire-separation requirements. These are not just outbuildings.”

According to federal regulation, nonaeronautical use of hangars are banned without FAA permission, as are storage of items that are in violation of airport rules, lease provisions, local ordinances or building codes. Because nonaeronautical use of hangars may occasionally be appropriate, the policy allows airport managers to obtain prior consent from the sponsor’s local FAA Office of Airports for month-to-month nonaeronautical leases when there is no aeronautical demand for hangars. “We want the users of the airports in the state system to understand that hangars first and foremost must be used for aeronautical purposes,” said Bird.