Q&A: Aviation Permitting / Compliance
Q: What challenges are unique to working at airports?
A: Airports are often located in proximity to major waterbodies and/or wetland complexes. As a result, site improvements and updates frequently require stringent federal and/or state permits for work within floodplains, coastal zones, wetlands, wetland buffers, and other environmentally sensitive areas. Improvements within these areas are typically subject to strict permit standards that may influence project siting, design, and construction considerations.
Furthermore, given the intense security protocols associated with airside activities, construction is often subject to complex and rigorous regulations, leaving little room for error. Obtaining access to an active airdrome is a complex process that can require months of coordination before the first shovel touches the ground. As a result, anyone involved with airport work must possess an intimate understanding of all relevant regulations and know who to call if something goes wrong.
Q: What federal permits are required for aviation work?
A: There are several federal permits that may be required depending on the scope of work.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements:
– FAA Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 77 (14 CFR Part 77): Regulations related to construction activities conducted at aviation facilities
– FAA Form 7460-2: This form must be submitted if equipment or materials used may exceed the height of surrounding buildings/structures; in this case, the FAA may conduct an aeronautical study according to United States Code (49 USC, Section 44718) to determine whether the project exceeds obstruction standards and creates hazardous conditions for air navigation
– FAA Form 7460-1: If constructing buildings or structures on airport property, this form must be submitted at least 45 days prior to the commencement of the projected work
– 14 CFR Part 157: Additional regulations regarding the alteration of runways or taxiways
In addition to these FAA requirements, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires an Environmental Assessment for any proposed terminal/airport construction that will affect aircraft capacity, routing, and/or environmental conditions.
If at least one environmental impact is deemed significant and mitigation measures will not help reduce the impact(s) below appropriate levels, an Environmental Impact Statement must be submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements are both regulated under FAA Order 1050.1F. Depending on site conditions, the EPA may require additional permitting. For example, if the airport facility stores more than 1,320 gallons of oil products in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 gallons in buried containers, a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan must be prepared. Construction sites seeking to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit must also develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to identify potential sources of stormwater pollution and outline Best Management Practices to reduce pollutants in stormwater discharge. Langan has extensive experience preparing both SPCC Plans and SWPPPs, which are regulated under the Clean Water Act.
Q: What is a TAA? Do states have permit requirements?
A: TAA stands for Tenant Alteration Application, a permit application required by most airports prior to the commencement of any significant or intrusive work. Keep in mind, TAA requirements may vary from airport to airport. In general, the TAA process includes submittal of a substantial application package, responses to comments provided by the reviewing agency, a pre-construction meeting with all parties involved to coordinate work logistics, and, ultimately, the issuance of the TAA permit.
Each state may also require additional permits depending on the project scope. For example, modifications to an airport’s fuel hydrant system(s) in New York require coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) under regulation of Major Oil Storage Facilities. Additionally, if tanks will be installed or removed as part of the proposed work, coordination with NYSDEC is also required under regulation of Petroleum Bulk Storage or Chemical Bulk Storage facilities. Engineers interested in pursuing construction work at major aviation facilities must be familiar with the specific requirements outlined by their respective state agencies and/or review/control boards to ensure all mandatory approvals and permits are obtained within the appropriate timeframe.
About Jeff Stoicescu, PE
Jeff Stoicescu has nearly 30 years of engineering, permitting, and construction experience in a wide range of sectors including aviation, oil & gas, commercial developments, and federal Superfund cleanup sites across the US and around the world. For the aviation sector, Stoicescu’s experience includes the design and permitting of new buildings, warehouses, terminals, taxiways, and plane aprons.
About Ryan Hall
Ryan Hall has five years of environmental experience including field sampling and testing programs, and subsurface soil and groundwater investigations on various industrial projects, including airports and airside facilities.