Airport and FAA Records Disclosure

Airport and FAA Records Disclosure

(Revised January 7, 2013)



Freedom of Information Act (5 United States Code 552) applies to the federal government only.

U.S. Department of Justice FOIA website explains policies that apply to the entire federal government.

FAA Freedom of Information Act Office for specific guidance.


California Public Records Act (Government Code §§ 6250-6270).

California First Amendment Coalition for guidance.


State Freedom of Information Act Map has links to freedom of information-related laws and guides on obtaining public records for each state.


City of San Jose v. Superior Court (San Jose Mercury News) — The court held that a newspaper was not entitled to know the names, addresses, and telephone numbes of persons complaining to San Jose International Airport about noise. (6th Dist. Ct. App., 1999, 74 Cal.App.4th 1008)

City of Hermosa Beach v. City of Los Angeles (April 12, 2001) — City sought five years of records on nighttime departures from Los Angeles International Airport and information on procedures to reduce airport noise.

Feltus v. PDK, filed May 14, 2004, seeks injunctive relief under the Georgia Open Records Act, ordering the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport to turn over certain airport records. Pleadings and briefs are posted at PDK Watch. See the following news reports:

Judge Rules Airport Records Must Be Disclosed (August 10, 2005)
Role of FAA Debated in Hearing on Airport Records Disclosure (June 9, 2005)
Suit Demands Airport Turn Over Noise Information (June 2, 2005)

New Jersey Coalition Against Aircraft Noise v. FAA (filed Nov. 12, 2004, U.S. District Court for New Jersey) — The FAA has refused to provide documents concerning the FAA's redesign of the airspace in the New York - New Jersey - Philadelphia metropolitan area. It based its refusal on the "deliberative process" privilege.

FAA's Memorandum of Law in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment (Sept. 14, 2005) (file = PDF 78 kB)
NJCAAN's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Oct. 14, 2005) (file = PDF 87 kB)
FAA's Reply Brief in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgement (Oct. 31, 2005) (file = PDF 55 kB)

Other Legal Documents

California Attorney General Opinion 94-903 (1995) — Opinion: The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons who have filed noise complaints concerning the operation of a city airport are subject to public disclosure unless the city can establish in the particular circumstances that the public interest served by not making the information public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure. The opinion outlines a balancing test for weighing disclosure versus nondisclosure. This test was used in 1999 in the case of City of San Jose v. Superior Court (Mercury News), where the court concluded that a newspaper was not entitled to learn the identity of complainants (see link to this decision under "Cases" above).


Illinois Governor Withholds Research Reports on New Chicago Airport (Sept. 28, 2012)

Pilots Fight Public Identification of Noisy Planes (June 14, 2005)


Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project is an outstanding resource!