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February 2011 AIRPORT Cooperative Research Program Sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration Responsible Senior Program Officer: Gwen Chisholm Smith Legal Research Digest 11 Survey of Minimum Standards: Commercial Aeronautical Activities at Airports This report was prepared under ACRP Project 11-01, "Legal Aspects of Airport Programs," for which the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is the agency coordinating the research. The report was prepared by Daniel S. Reimer, Esq., and Paul A. Meyers, Kaplan, Kirsch, Rockwell LLP, Aviation Management Consulting Group. James B. McDaniel, TRB Counsel for Legal Research Projects, was the principal investigator and content editor. Background There are over 4,000 airports in the country and most of Airport owners and operators commonly impose re- these airports are owned by governments. A 2003 sur- quirements that must be met by the businesses that per- vey conducted by Airports Council InternationalNorth form these commercial aeronautical activities. These America concluded that city ownership accounts for requirements are known as "Minimum Standards." 38 percent, followed by regional airports at 25 percent, Sponsors of airports that have received Federal Airport single county at 17 percent, and multi-jurisdictional at Improvement Program grants are under a federal obliga- 9 percent. Primary legal services to these airports are, tion to operate their airport in a safe and efficient manner, in most cases, provided by municipal, county, and state while allowing access to all categories of aeronautical attorneys. users on reasonable terms without unjust discrimination. Reports and summaries produced by the Airport Con- The FAA encourages airport sponsors to adopt appropri- tinuing Legal Studies Project and published as ACRP ate minimum standards for commercial use of the airport Legal Research Digests are developed to assist these at- to help meet these potentially conflicting obligations in a torneys seeking to deal with the myriad of legal problems consistent manner. encountered during airport development and operations. This digest contains source material for adopting and Such substantive areas as eminent domain, environmen- enforcing minimum standards, reports survey results tal concerns, leasing, contracting, security, insurance, showing current practices, and includes a compendium civil rights, and tort liability present cutting-edge legal of comparative minimum standards. The purpose of this issues where research is useful and indeed needed. Air- research was to identify commercial aeronautical ac- port legal research, when conducted through the TRB's tivities (e.g., full service fixed base operator or avionics legal studies process, either collects primary data that repair) that are customary at airports and rank them ac- usually are not available elsewhere or performs analysis cording to frequency of occurrence. The research iden- of existing literature. tified standards typically applied to these activities and categorized them by type of commercial activity and by Applications subject area, e.g., minimum insurance requirements or minimum square footage. Numerous commercial aeronautical activities occur at The information contained in this digest should be airports. Examples of these activities include aircraft useful to airports, managers, planners, developers, policy fueling, line (ground handling) services, maintenance staff, financial officers, and all persons involved in devel- and repair, storage, rental and flight training/instruction, oping and enforcing airport minimum standards. sales, and charter and management. TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES