V.G. Airports

Section 121.590 requires that no air carrier or pilot conducting

operations under part 121 may operate an airplane into a land airport

in the U.S.(or territory, etc.) unless the airport is certificated

under 14 CFR part 139. Section 135.229 states that no certificate

holder may use any airport unless it is adequate for the proposed


Part 139 prescribes regulations governing the certification and

operation of all land airports that are served by any scheduled or

nonscheduled passenger air carrier operating airplanes with a seating

capacity of more than 30 passengers. The FAA's authority is limited

by statute (49 U.S.C. 44706(a)) to the 30-passenger-seat dividing

line. The FAA, in conjunction with the Department of Transportation,

has sought legislation that would grant the agency the authority to

certificate any airport that receives scheduled service by a

certificate holder utilizing airplanes designed for 10 or more

passenger seats.

Accordingly, pending Congressional resolution of this issue,

affected commuters are permitted to operate into other than part 139

certificated airports. If the FAA receives expanded authority over

airport certification, it would propose rulemaking standards that are

sufficiently flexible to cover the range of airports presently served

under part 135.

Comments: Nine comments were received on this issue, with the

major concern being that airport legislation currently being

considered may include requirements that some communities may not be

able to afford which would negatively affect air service to these


The Las Vegas Department of Aviation comments that it has

purchased and upgraded satellite airports in the Las Vegas area to

help relieve the congestion at the McCarran International Airport.

The commenter is concerned that the Clark County Department Of

Aviation, the Grand Canyon Tour Operators, and the Las Vegas

Department of Aviation may not be able to afford additional airport

upgrades. This would cause certificate holders that currently operate

out of the non-certificated outlying airports to move their operations

back to McCarran, thereby increasing traffic congestion and in-flight


NATA and Commuter Air Technology concur with the FAA proposal to

allow part 135 certificate holders to continue to operate with

existing airport requirements, but are concerned about the airport

expansion program. NATA prefers that no new airport legislation be

adopted and that the proposed regulatory allowance for noncertificated

airports be made permanent.

A comment from Fairchild Aircraft mentions the Essential Air

Service Program enacted by Congress that guarantees air service to

small and medium size communities. Fairchild says that the commuter

industry responded to that program and provided essential air service

to small and medium communities, and that those communities may not

be able to afford the proposed airport expansion program.

Other commenters state that it would not be feasible to upgrade

smaller airports to part 139 standards. One certificate holder states

that of the five airports it serves only one meets part 139 standards;

at the other airports where the certificate holder provides essential

air service "there is no aircraft rescue or fire fighting equipment,

airport guidance signs, airfield inspection procedures, airport staff,

snow and ice control plan, or airfield pavement maintenance...."

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), RAA,

Airports Council International-North America, and the National

Association of State Aviation Officials would like the airport

expansion issue referred to an ARAC committee before seeking federal

legislation, to allow ARAC to develop a cost-effective response to

NTSB recommendations that takes into account the difference between

small airports that serve rural communities and large airports near

major cities.

ALPA believes that the FAA should require commuters to operate

out of part 139 certificated airports in the interest of one level of

safety. ALPA recognizes that some airports in remote sites will not

be capable of complying with all part 139 requirements. However, ALPA

does not believe that an exemption should be provided for aircraft

with passenger-seating capacities of 30 or less. Rather certificate

holders that serve small airports should apply individually for an

exemption or waiver.

Commuter Technology expresses concern that a revised part 139 may

result in the application of airplane operator security regulations of

part 108 and the airport security regulations of part 107 to air

carriers using aircraft with a seating capacity of 30 or fewer seats.

The commenter believes that the ARAC committee that is tasked with

recommending revisions to part 139 should also be tasked with

restricting or eliminating the applicability of part 107 to small

airports. According to the commenter the application of parts 107 and

108 to commuter air carriers and the airports that serve them could

have a radical effect on the economic viability of the air carriers

and airports.

FAA Response: The FAA has assigned a task to the Aviation

Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to recommend the requirements in

part 139 that should be applicable to airports covered under any

expanded legislation that would give the FAA authority to certificate

airports serving airplanes with less than 30 passengers. In the

meantime, § 121.590 is adopted as proposed to allow affected commuters

to use noncertificated airports. In making its recommendations ARAC

is to consider accepted industry practices regarding airport safety,

personnel available at these airports, costs associated with meeting

these requirements (e.g. capital, operating, and maintenance costs),

and the types of accidents/incidents that have occurred at these


In response to the comment on security programs for airports and

operators, no changes to parts 107 and 108 are necessary as a result

of this rule because the requirements of those parts are already

tailored to the size of the airplane.