The NBAA and other stakeholders are joining together to file motions to stop the closure and redesignation of the East Hampton Airport (HTO), saying the plan goes against federal laws.The town board closed the public-use East Hampton Airport on May 17 and will then reopen the facility 33 hours later as the East Hampton Town Airport (JPX), a private-use airport with access restrictions under a Prior Permission Required (PPR) framework.
"Allowing this airport's closure and reopening to proceed would undermine decades of federal policy and create a dangerous path by which other communities could similarly claim ‘local control,' restrict access to their airports, and destroy the functionality of the national air transportation system," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
The motions to pause the closure of East Hampton Airport were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
The town board is looking to reduce noise complaints coming from the airport traffic through the PPR framework.
According to the East Hampton Star, the transition will only impact 40% of aircraft operations while addressing nearly 70% of the noise complaints.
The NBAA broke down what restrictions will be in place when the airport opens, which include "some of the highest landing fees in the nation," banning on aircraft weighing more than 50,000 lbs. and aircraft with an Effective Perceived Noise in Decibels (EPNdb) on approach of 91 or higher, trip limits on Part 135 and 91 operations, curfew, and "burdensome" requirements for IFR operations.
A motion of contempt was filed May 14 by the NBAA and other claimants, noting that the town's plan violates a permanent injunction issued by the court after an attempt to "unlawfully impose very similar restrictions" in 2015, which the motion says contradicts the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA).
Read the full Motion for Contempt.
The motion states that the town board's plan "has no basis in law and is contemptuous of this court's prior ruling."
A second complaint asks the court to declare that the town's attempted reclassification of HTO is preempted by ANCA, and to block town officials from any further attempts to close the airport or impose noise restrictions until the town complies with ANCA's requirements.
Read the full Motion for Injunction.
The NBAA said that it has "encouraged" the FAA to notify the town that its plan was inconsistent with ANCA and other federal laws.
The Town Board announced plans to close the airport in February, but the move was met with much resistance from the FAA, general aviation groups, and businesses on the airfield. After an airport airspace analysis, the FAA told town officials that it has "no objection" to the privatization, greenlighting the plan.
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Bolen concluded, "Our preference is to work cooperatively with communities - but after exhausting all other means, this legal action demonstrates the business aviation community will remain proactive in combating access to our nation's aviation infrastructure."