AUGUST 31, 2000
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and seven other business aviation associations and businesses yesterday filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Los Angeles challenging the legality of the recently adopted "non-addition rule" for stage-2 jet aircraft at Van Nuys Airport. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory order that the non-addition rule is unconstitutional and unlawful and seeks a permanent injunction preventing the City of Los Angeles from enforcing the rule.
Two other national business aviation trade organizations, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, as are five aviation businesses located at Van Nuys Airport -- Clay Lacy Aviation, Elite Aviation, Inc., Jetwest International, Skytrails Aviation, and The Air Group Inc.
The non-addition rule was adopted by the City of Los Angeles in April 2000 and became effective in June. Generally speaking, the non-addition rule prohibits most stage-2 aircraft that were not based at Van Nuys Airport during calendar year 1999 from being based at or otherwise parked, tied down, or hangared at the airport for more than 30 days in any succeeding year.
Commenting on the filing of the lawsuit, NBAA President John W. Olcott stated: "NBAA and other business aviation parties worked for some time to prevent the adoption of the Van Nuys non-addition rule. We are disappointed that the City of Los Angeles rebuffed our efforts to engage in a constructive dialogue about noise and access controls at VNY. NBAA has a lengthy and successful record of working with communities and airport proprietors to try to develop solutions when there are genuine problems. We always view litigation as a last resort, but take such action where, as here, the airport proprietor has insisted on adopting clearly illegal and unjustified restrictions that are targeted against business aviation."
Olcott also noted that the plaintiffs intend to file a motion for a preliminary injunction in order to prevent Los Angeles from enforcing the non- addition rule during the pendency of the litigation.
The civil complaint filed by NBAA and the other plaintiffs alleges, among other things, that "while the non-addition rule and operations limitation purports to be a noise control measure, it is not justified by the noise situation at VNY and no material reduction or other improvement in noise in and around the airport has been demonstrated to result from it." The complaint further alleges that the rule "was adopted in the face of ample evidence that it would severely impact the local economy and interstate commerce and discriminate against certain users of the airport."
Federal law permits the proprietor of a public-use airport to impose noise and access restrictions provided that such restrictions are reasonable, non- arbitrary and non-discriminatory and that the restrictions are not unduly burdensome to interstate commerce. The lawsuit contends that Los Angeles violated each of these principles in adopting the non-addition rule.
Van Nuys Airport is the busiest general aviation airport in the United States. More than 100 businesses are located at the airport, employing some 3,500 people, including major fixed based operators (FBOs) and numerous companies providing aviation and flight-related services. A recent economic impact study found that the airport contributed nearly $1.2 billion annually to the economy of Southern California and that it creates over 10,000 jobs.
The five Van Nuys-based companies that are plaintiffs in the action include FBOs and businesses involved in aircraft charter and management, aircraft sales, and aircraft maintenance and repair. The lawsuit alleges that these businesses have and will continue to sustain revenue losses and lost business opportunities due to the non-addition rule; some of these plaintiffs have stage-2 aircraft currently based at their Van Nuys facilities that face eviction under the rule.
For NBAA, as explained in the complaint, the non-addition rule "threatens the ability of its members to take appropriate advantage of one of the most important business aviation airports in the U.S." NBAA represents the aviation interests of over 6,100 companies which own or operate general aviation aircraft as an aid to the conduct of their business, or are involved with business aviation.
Source: National Business Aviation Association