Quiet Conflict in Naples, FL
A corporate airport becomes a hot button with FAA and industry
By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director
NAPLES, FL — People come here for the quiet, the warm air. That, in brief, is why the Naples Municipal Airport has become a national focal point for the noise issue facing airports. It is operated by an authority not afraid to challenge federal authorities and to spend money, particularly when the FAA is attempting to enforce a regulation that still requires definition. Ted Soliday and Lisa LeBlancHutchings are at the center of the Naples noise controversy
is a developing story, with FAA putting a temporary halt to a ban by the
Naples Airport Authority of Stage 2 aircraft under 75,000 lbs. —
i.e., corporate jets. It is becoming an important story, a precedent,
as other airports and their sponsors take a closer look at a basically
new regulation — FAR Part 161 — and how it might permit having
a greater say in what types of aircraft use their airports.
It’s also about the reaction of the users, particularly the corporations that are members of the National Business Aviation Association, which is taking the Naples authority to court over the Stage 2 ban, which went into effect January 1. Following FAA objections to the associated Part 161 filing by the authority, the ban was temporarily halted while the various parties work toward a resolution.
FAA has yet to approve a Part 161 filing, and Soliday and others question whether the agency is, like Indiana Jones, charging ahead but making it up as they go along. The Part 161 filing is the basic premise the authority is using on which to base its purview for the Stage 2 ban. NBAA charges the move is unconstitutional and would have a negative impact on the national transportation system.
The FAA did not return phone calls for this article, but has been quoted as having reservations about whether or not the Naples ban is reasonable under the grant assurances, and that banning a class of aircraft is a very big deal (AIRPORTS, Feb. 13).
Ted Soliday, executive director at Naples Municipal, explains, "In the ’90s, we started a master plan to really look at all issues environmentally. One of the early things we did was weight testing and runway testing, and we determined that the airport should serve smaller aircraft. So we put our design limits to 75,000 lbs. and smaller."
Meanwhile, the 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act by Congress directed FAA to implement new standards that would eliminate large commercial Stage 2 aircraft (above 75,000 lbs.) and allow a mechanism for more local control, the new Part 161. "We don’t question that that’s positive," says Soliday. "But to airports like Naples that serve aircraft under 75,000 lbs., there is no direct benefit. If fact, when you see a G-II take off from here, that’s the same engines that a DC-9-10 has. How can that be?"
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Much ado about noise; or, who will be next to step up to the plate?