Legal Aspects of Airport Programs

Legal and regulatory aspects of the temporary parking of overflow aircraft

COVID-19 has grounded aircraft all around the country exceeding the gate and "regular" parking capacity of several airports. Airport operators and flight operators have coordinated for parking these overflow aircraft in non-traditional configuration (i.e., denser parking configuration than the default layout) and on unusual areas of the airfield (e.g., taxiways, runways, decommissioned pavement). At many airports, portions of the movement area were closed and turned into temporary parking (status? non-movement area? outside of the AOA?).

What are the legal and regulatory implications of this temporary parking? What is the matrix of responsibilities between the airport operator, the aircraft owner, the flight operator, etc.? What are the obligations of the airport operator (incl. those pertaining to obstacle evaluations and submission of 7460 form)? What if the aircraft is damaged by a third party on this temporary parking area? What if the aircraft damage airfield assets e.g., due to excessive static loads or contamination of asphalt concrete by oil/fuel spill? Are aircraft parked on these areas subject to the same limitations that at the gate (e.g., APU restrictions for noise mitigation purpose)?

Background--State the problem and why research is necessary. Highlight the legal and regulatory issues as they specifically pertain to airports.

Temporary parking areas for overflow aircraft are not intended for this purpose. They may not be covered by a plan or procedure. Such parking organization might not be covered by airport codes, regulations, and ordinances. Aircraft owners and their contractors (FBOs, MROs) might not be able to have access to the aircraft as they may not be authorized to drive on certain vehicle service roads serving the movement area.

Objective--State the objective, including a brief description of the intended deliverable, which airport stakeholders are the intended audience, and how their needs will be met by the deliverable.

The deliverable should be a legal digest that explore potential liability issues and the possible ways to address them, as well as specific insurance risks. Stakeholders include airport operators, aircraft owners/operators, insurers, etc. The document should also list the "must do"s e.g., developing a plan agreed with the stakeholders that address the potential safety and operational issues, and identify the responsibilities and roles of each stakeholder. The document should also collect and analyze lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis if any.

Relevance to Airport Legal Issues--ACRP's Legal Research Program focuses on legal and regulatory challenges and issues as they specifically pertain to airports. Please describe how this topic is relevant and unique to airports such that it should be researched.

The COVID-19 pandemics have grounded thousands of aircraft at U.S. airports. Many of them have been parked on portions of the movement areas closed for accommodating them for short- or long-term parking. This includes runways and taxiways.

Information Sources--Organizations, individuals, or related literature.

Existing literature:

- FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 20005

- FAA National Part 139 CertAlert No. 20-02

- ACI Advisory Bulletin on the Temporary parking of Overflow Aircraft

- Le Bris. G. Best Practices on the Temporary Parking of Overflow Aircraft, WSP USA, 2020. https://www.wsp.com/en-CA/insights/2020-temporary-parking-of-overflow-aircraft

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Idea No. 538