A US appeals court has upheld the ban on Stage 2 jets at Naples municipal airport in Florida. The ban was opposed by the US Federal Aviation Administration as being “unreasonable”, a view supported by industry associations fearing a proliferation of restrictions on older aircraft.

In its 6 June ruling, the court said the airport authority “introduced ample evidence – much of which went rebutted – demonstrating that the Stage 2 ban was justified”.

The ruling enables the Naples airport authority to receive $3.2 million in federal funding withheld by the FAA.

The first US airport to ban Stage 2 aircraft under 34,000kg (75,000lb), Naples began enforcing the prohibition in March 2002. In August 2003, the FAA decided the ban violated Naples’s obligation, as a recipient of federal grants, to make the airport available for public use on reasonable terms.

Although the appeals court decided in favour of the ban, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) says its ruling upholds the FAA’s authority to take action against unreasonable restrictions on certain types of aircraft. NBAA says the court stated the FAA had not adequately explained why the Naples ban was unreasonable.

The Naples case is the first test of the so-called Part 161 process, which requires airport operators to analyse both the benefits and costs of noise rules, such as curfews. Naples was the first airport to complete a Part 161 study, which it says was approved by the FAA in October 2001. The agency argues the Naples study used 60dB as the maximum acceptable noise limit, and not the 65dB contour designated by the agency.

Source: Flight International