Public use airports that have accepted grants under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) must comply with certain Federal policies included in each grant agreement as “Sponsor Assurances”. An airport Sponsor can simply be described as any entity operating and/or managing a federally obligated public use airport such as a municipality, county government, state, etc.

Noted in the Federal Registry / Vol. 81, No. 115, June 15, 2016/Rules and Regulations under The Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, 14 CFR Chapter 1 (Docket No. FAA 2014-0463), “Policy on the Non-Aeronautical Use of Airport Hangars” with the latest policy effective date, July, 1 2017. Unfortunately, the policy also effects owners of privately owned hangars on leased land. It should be noted that the policy does not apply to privately owned airports or public use airports that have not received Federal grant money.

The purpose of the policy is to assure is that airports who have accepted AIP Grants, operate facilities exclusively for aeronautical purposes. One of the Sponsors responsibilities is to develop an acceptable policy of their own from FAA minimum guidelines for “Non-Aeronautical Use” of airport hangars to comply with their AIP commitments. The FAA has set minimum requirements that Sponsors must adhere to regarding hangar use issues but does allows for Sponsor discretion regarding activities that do
not impact other aeronautical uses and do not create unjustly discriminatory conditions at the airport.

Failure to follow FAA policy guidelines and the Sponsor airport policy may result in violations and jeopardize current and future grant funding of airports not in compliance.

The FAA Policy is specific with certain aeronautical and non-aeronautical usage of hangars and allows Sponsors to create their own policy above and beyond FAA requirements to meet local and state codes and regulations as deemed necessary.

The FAA has published a “Frequently Asked Questions & Answers on FAA Policy on Use of Hangars at Obligated Airports located online at https://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_compliance/hangar_use/#q2

To summarize what the FAA considers as “Aeronautical Use”:

  • Storage of aircraft
  • Sheltering aircraft for maintenance, repair, or refurbishment but not indefinitely storing non-
    operational aircraft
  • Non-commercial building of amateur / experimental aircraft
  • Storing aircraft handling equipment, tools, tow bars, work benches, materials to service aircraft,
    items related to ancillary or incidental uses that do not affect a hangars primary use
  • Storage of materials related to aeronautical activities, i.e., office equipment, teaching tools, &
    items related to ancillary or incidental uses that do not affect a hangars primary use
  • Parking a vehicle at the hangar while the aircraft usually stored in that hangar is flying
  • Storing non-aeronautical items that do not interfere with the primary use of the hangar
    The following uses are not permissible under the FAA policy:
  • Use as a residence
  • Operation of a non-aeronautical business
  • Activities that impede the movement of aircraft in and out of the hangar or other aeronautical
    contents of the hangar
  • Activities that displace the aeronautical contents or impede access to aircraft or other
    aeronautical contents of the hangar
  • Long term storage of derelict aircraft
  • Storage of items or activities prohibited by local and state law
  • Storage of municipality inventory or equipment unrelated to aeronautical use
    Airport Sponsor Responsibilities
  • Develop an airport policy that at least meets the FAA’s policy minimum requirements
  • Allows Sponsor discretion to manage and address A.) adopting rules covering the different uses
    of hangars B.) Mitigating related safety concerns (fire codes, emergency access, etc) C.)
    Managing airport planning D.) Preserving airport efficiency E.) Managing funding aspects of
    airport management
  • Provides protection against claims of discrimination by imposing consistent rules for incidental
    storage in all similar facilities at the airport;
  • Provides airport sponsors with the ability to permit certain non-aeronautical items to be stored
    in hangars provided the items do not interfere with the aeronautical use of the hangar;
  • Allows an airport sponsor to request FAA approval of an interim use of a hangar for non-
    aeronautical purposes for a period of 3 to 5 years; and
  • Allows an airport sponsor to request FAA approval of a leasing plan for the lease of vacant
    hangars for non-aeronautical use on a month-to-month basis.