10.04.18

SCHUMER SECURES PROVISION IN THE 2018 FAA REAUTHORIZATION BILL TO SOLVE THORNY ISSUE FOR THE TOWN OF ARIETTA, ENSURING THAT CRITICAL FEDERAL AIRPORT FUNDING WILL FLOW ONCE AGAIN TO KEEP THE PISECO AIRPORT OPEN

A Small 2013 Rule Change Forced The Piseco Airport Out Of Compliance And Rendered It Unable To Receive FAA Grant Funding For Necessary Infrastructure Repairs 

Following His Annual Visit To Hamilton County In 2016, Schumer Promised To Remedy The Situation; The Senate Passed A Five-Year FAA Reauthorization Bill That Will Grandfather Airports Like Piseco To Ensure They Remain Eligible for Funding      

Schumer: The Town of Arietta, One of New York’s Smallest Towns, Once Again Is Eligible To Receive Federal Funding To Maintain The Piseco Airport

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the just-passed five-year Federal Aviation Reauthorization (FAA) bill includes his provision to grandfather airports like the Piseco Airport in the Town of Arietta from a 2013 rule change that had kept them from receiving critical federal funding they needed to maintain the municipal airport’s infrastructure. The provision amends the Residential Through-the-Fence Access (RTTF) to airports by grandfathering certain deed agreements to bring the Piseco Airport back into FAA compliance and allow them to once again receive federal grant funding through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Schumer explained that in 1971 The Town of Arietta, which owns and operates the Piseco Airport, deeded perpetual access rights to eight properties immediately adjacent to the Piseco airfield. In 2013, however, the Federal Aviation Administration issued RTTF, which required that airports charge neighboring properties for access. Unable to collect the fee because of the deed agreements, Piseco Airport and the Town of Arietta fell out of compliance with FAA regulations, rendering them ineligible to receive annual Airport Improvement Program grant funding of approximately $150,000, which it depends on in order to operate the municipally owned airfield. 

“People sometimes ask me why I travel to each of New York’s 62 counties every year. This is exactly why,” said Senator Schumer. “In 2016 Supervisor Rick Wilt told me that the town was caught between a rock and a hard place and needed help with the FAA. There is simply no way that Arietta, one of New York’s smallest towns, could continue to operate and maintain its municipal airport without annual aviation grant funding from the federal government. It has been a long fight to get an FAA Reauthorization bill and this provision passed, but now, thankfully, Arietta will be back in compliance and the critical federal funding will start flowing again. If I didn’t visit Hamilton County every year, I doubt I ever would have learned of this problem.”

Schumer explained that there are six homes on eight properties lined immediately adjacent to the western side of the Piseco Airport along their airstrip, and that back in I971, the Town of Arietta deeded homeowners perpetual access rights to the airstrip. However, Schumer explained, five years ago the FAA established the Residential Through-the-Fence Access agreement, which says that any neighboring access to an airport must be sold at fair market value. As a result of the Piseco Airport’s non-compliance with this rule, the FAA prohibited Piseco from receiving grant funding through the AIP. According to Schumer, this crippled the ability of the Town of Arietta, population 304, to maintain and operate their airport.

“Since 2015, our airport has been deemed out of compliance with FAA regulations and ineligible to receive the annual $150,000 of federal funds that we depend on to operate,” said Town Supervisor Rick Wilt. “Arietta is a small town of 300 people and there is just no way that we could afford to manage or improve the airport without FAA grants. Senator Schumer started working to bring Piseco Airport back into compliance as soon as I brought the problem to him, and today we are. Many thanks to Senator Schumer for taking care of the little guys.”

Schumer has long fought to resolve this issue for the Town of Arietta and the Piseco Airport. In 2016, Supervisor Rick Wilt raised the issue during Schumer’s annual visit to Hamilton County. Schumer’s staff worked with the FAA to try and find a regulatory solution. Again in 2017, Schumer met with Town of Arietta and Hamilton County officials at the airport to discuss the issue in greater detail, and pledged to include a policy fix in the next Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill.  Unfortunately, last year Congress passed a one-year extension of the previous authorization bill. Today, however, Schumer announced a five-year FAA Reauthorization bill passed the Senate and includes a legislative fix to the Residential Through-the-Fence Access, allowing certain airports, including the Piseco Airport, to be eligible to receive federal AIP funds through a grandfather clause.

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