Bill Would Nix More Restrictive Rule Proposal On Building Heights Near Airports
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A new bill, H.R. 4, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, would make an earlier proposed rule change by the Federal Aviation Administration — a change that would further restrict building heights near airports — more difficult to enact.
Part of the five-year FAA reauthorization bill passed nearly unanimously (393-13) addressed the rule-change proposal, known as One Engine Inoperative. OEI is of concern to real estate interests because it could affect land development and property values near U.S. airports.
When the agency proposed the policy change in 2014, it explained that public safety concerns were not the reason for it, but rather that the rule change would allow airlines to carry more passengers and freight cargo.
The 2014 FAA-proposed rule change would have upended long-standing policy by compelling the agency to consider whether a building or other structure poses a hazard if one of a plane's engines fails on takeoff, which would keep the plane lower, the Real Estate Roundtable reports.
The proposed rule change would thus modify takeoff and landing flight paths in a way that reduced formerly allowable building heights near airports. About 4,000 buildings near 380 airports in the U.S. could become "non-conforming" if new OEI policies were to take effect, the Roundtable reports. They would be above the allowable height and face possible demolition.
As passed, H.R. 4 would require any changes to current OEI policies to first go through a full public rule-making process. Also, the White House Office of Management and Budget would conduct a cost-benefit analysis of any such FAA action.
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the FAA reauthorization bill in the near future.