February 9, 2021
The FAA has issued a ruling overturning the ban on jets at Lantana Airport. The Palm Beach County Commission on February 9th voted unanimously to appeal the ruling. At the meeting, Vice Mayor Kaulbach made the following remarks:
Good Morning, I am Allan Kaulbach, Vice Mayor of the City of Atlantis and the Council’s designated representative on Lantana Airport issues.
Today you are being asked to approve a Corrective Action Plan to address the FAA’s decision requiring removal of the County’s jet ban at Lantana.
Before acting on the Department of Airports recommendation, the County Commissioners should consider several significant issues:
First, the FAA decision is primarily based on its internal FAA findings ultimately affirmed by the Deputy Administrator on January 13, who then left Office the next day.
Second, the facts in this case strongly merit independent judicial review of whether the FAA’s findings and conclusions are correct before the FAA is allowed to mandate a drastic policy change in long-standing County aviation policy. Judicial review has not happened yet and can be accomplished by appeal to the D.C Court of Appeals or the Eleventh Circuit;
Finally, independent, judicial review could result in a finding that the jet ban is reasonable, non-discriminatory and grandfathered by the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) because, contrary to the FAA’s findings, the County’s jet ban is not a new post-ANCA rule. Why?
First, the County has openly and continually maintained and enforced the jet ban before and after its 1988 Airport Regulations issuance;
Second, the County’s enforcement of the jet ban restriction had been upheld in writing by the FAA’s local office on numerous occasions for 43 years until the 2016 challenge;
Finally, the County’s Lantana Airport Master Plans after 1988, were reviewed and approved by the FAA (presumably in Washington) as a basis for ongoing grant funding. Those plans clearly stated the existence of the jet ban restriction and noted the Lantana Airport’s position as part of the County’s airport system.
The FAA’s imposition of a 60 day time limit for development a Corrective Action Plan combined with the open threat to withhold federal grant funds not only for Lantana, but the County’s other airports is premature, punitive and arbitrary for at least three reasons:
First, there has been no publicly detailed safety assessment of introducing jets at Lantana Airport which is surrounded by residential communities and a hospital;
Second, there has been no operational analysis of the potential risks and consequences of introducing jets at a facility where there are four flight schools for fixed wing aircraft and helicopters in addition to general aviation traffic;
Third the FAA is attempting to bully the County into reversing a 40 plus year policy, upon which it and its constituents have relied, based on a single complaint without judicial review and in a situation where, unlike other cases cited in the FAA decision, the County has other nearby airports that can accommodate jets.
In closing, I would respectfully urge the Commission to:
Continue to fulfill its contractual obligations to Atlantis under the 1991 Interlocal Agreement and appeal the FAA’s decision;
Request the FAA and/or the Court of Appeals to stay the development of a Corrective Action Plan pending appeal;
Require that any Corrective Action Plan be premised on a detailed safety assessment of the introduction of jets at Lantana Airport;
Specify an opportunity for public review and comment on the safety assessment and any proposed Corrective Action Plan developed by the Department of Airports, and
Alert the State’s Congressional delegation to the circumstances surrounding the FAA’s decision and its heavy-handed tactics.
Respectfully submitted by:
City of Atlantis