Hangar Use Guidelines




Every day, the sun rises over Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport in Guthrie, Oklahoma with a favorable nod as silver wings catch the rays of light during abundant departures and arrivals.  Lining the runways and just beyond the taxi lanes are 88 airport hangars that are brimming with corporate jets and general aviation single and twin engine propeller planes. The airport maintains 63 T-hangars and 25 large span hangars that house their fixed base operators, corporate, maintenance/avionics/refurbishment and aircraft sales businesses. Around the state, this same narrative is repeated one-hundred fold.

Hangars at the state’s 108 publicly owned airports are an important resource for local airports and are highly desired and sought after by airport managers and users of the system.  Currently there are thousands of airport hangars in the state and more are being built every year as general and business aviation increases in viability.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants airport sponsors and their users to know and understand that airport sponsors that have accepted federal grants (federally obligated) are required to avail their airports to public use, and are prohibited from allowing airport property, including aircraft hangars, to be used for non-aeronautical functions without previous FAA approval.  

Regarding the non-aeronautical use of airport hangars, a notice of the final policy was released June 15, 2016.  The Final Policy, with a stated purpose to “provide a clear and standardized guide for airport sponsors and FAA compliance staff,” amends a July 2014 proposed policy statement that the FAA published regarding prohibited and permitted use of airport hangars.  Airport operators, city managers, and airport managers need to understand the significance of the Final Policy handed down by FAA.  These hangars are, largely, on airports that are federally obligated.  Consequently, airport sponsors must assume that hangar use complies with this policy.  The Final Policy sets forth the standard for permissible non-aeronautical uses of airport hangars as any use that does not interfere with aeronautical activities, and, specifically, use that doesn’t impede the movement of aircraft or access, or displaces aeronautical contents of a hangar.

According to federal regulation, non-aeronautical use of hangars are banned without FAA permission, as are storage of items that are in violation of airport rules, lease provisions, local ordinances, or building codes.  Because non-aeronautical use of hangars may occasionally be appropriate, the Final Policy allows airport managers to obtain prior consent from the sponsor’s local FAA Office of Airports for month-to-month non-aeronautical leases when there is no aeronautical demand for hangars.  

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers On FAA Policy on Use of Hangars at Obligated Airports

Updated: February 2017

An Airport sponsor who accepts Federal airport grants is bound by the conditions and assurances in the associated grant agreements. These obligations include grant assurances related to use of hangars and other designated aeronautical facilities on the airport for exclusively aeronautical purposes. On June 9, 2016, the FAA issued a notice of final policy regarding the storage of non-aeronautical items in airport facilities designated for aeronautical use. In conjunction with that notice of policy, the FAA is posting a series of frequently asked Questions and Answers (Q&As) to the FAA Airport Compliance website. These Q&As, which are intended to assist airport sponsors and users, will be periodically updated and may be included in the next update to FAA Order 5190.6B, Airport Compliance Handbook.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are hangars limited to certain kinds of use?

FAA Response. Airport sponsors that have accepted FAA grants or deeds of Federal surplus property are obligated to use dedicated aviation facilities for aeronautical use. If hangars are not reserved for aeronautical use, Federal airport grant funds could inadvertently subsidize non-aeronautical users, and aeronautical users could be denied access to needed airport facilities. Conditions in AIP grant assurances, relevant to hangar use, include:

  • Preserving rights and powers (Grant Assurance 5);
  • Making the airport available for aviation use on certain terms (Grant Assurance 22);
  • Not granting exclusive rights (Grant Assurance 23);
  • Ensuring safe operations (Grant Assurance 19); and
  • Complying with the ALP (Airport Layout Plan) process and requirements (Grant Assurance 29).

Question 2. What is an airport sponsor's responsibility for hangar use?

FAA Response. To ensure appropriate use of hangars, an airport sponsor should:

  • manage the use of hangars through an airport leasing program that requires a written lease agreement or permit;
  • monitor the use of hangars on the airport and take steps to prevent unapproved non-aeronautical use;
  • minimize the length of time to provide hangar space for those on a "waiting list"; and require non-aviation users pay a fair market rental for the use of the hangar and if needed, the hangar is returned to aviation use, under circumstances where temporary non-aeronautical use of a vacant hangar is permitted.

Question 3. What is the primary purpose of an aircraft hangar?

FAA Response. The primary purpose of an aircraft hangar is aircraft storage. If a hangar is serving its primary purpose - the storage of aircraft - then storage of non-aeronautical items in the hangar does not violate the airport sponsor's federal obligations.

Question 4. Why is the FAA issuing a separate policy statement on hangar use?

FAA Response. The FAA received a number of questions from airport sponsors and airport tenants about the possible uses of hangars and how rigidly the aeronautical use requirement should be applied. In developing the policy statement, the FAA focused on giving discretion to the local airport sponsor and allowing reasonable accommodation of activities that do not impact other aeronautical uses and do not create unjustly discriminatory conditions at the airport.

Question 5. To what airport facilities does the policy apply?

FAA Response. Policy applies to all aircraft storage areas or facilities on a federally obligated airport that are designated for aeronautical use on an FAA-approved Airport Layout Plan. The policy does not apply to property designated for non-aeronautical use on an approved Airport Layout Plan or otherwise approved for non-aeronautical use by the FAA.

Question 6. Does the policy apply to airports that have never received federal assistance in the form of AIP grants or Federal Surplus or Non-Surplus Property conveyances?

FAA Response. No, it does not. An airport operator-owner of a non-federally obligated airport may impose any restrictions the owner-operator deems necessary. However, certain federal requirements, such as exclusive rights and civil rights may be applicable.

Question 7. Does the policy apply to privately owned hangars on private property?

FAA Response. The policy does not apply to privately owned facilities located off the airport.

Question 8. What aeronautical uses of a hangar are permissible?

FAA Response.

  • Storage of active aircraft.
  • Shelter for maintenance, repair, or refurbishment of aircraft, but not the indefinite storage of non-operational aircraft.
  • Construction of amateur-built or kit-built aircraft provided that activities are conducted safely;
  • Storage of aircraft handling equipment, e.g., tow bar, glider tow equipment, workbenches, and tools and materials used to service, maintain, repair or outfit aircraft; items related to ancillary or incidental uses that do not affect the hangars' primary use.
  • Storage of materials related to an aeronautical activity, e.g., balloon and skydiving equipment, office equipment, teaching tools, and materials related to ancillary or incidental uses that do not affect the hangars' primary use; V' Storage of non-aeronautical items that do not interfere with the primary aeronautical purpose of the hangar (for example, televisions, furniture).
  • A vehicle parked at the hangar while the aircraft usually stored in that hangar is flying, subject to local airport rules and regulations.

Question 9. What uses are not permissible under the policy?

FAA Response.

  • Use as a residence.
  • Operation of a non-aeronautical business, e.g., limo service, car and motorcycle storage, storage of inventory, non-aeronautical business office.
  • Activities which impede the movement of the aircraft in and out of the hangar or other aeronautical contents of the hangar.
  • Activities which displace the aeronautical contents of the hangar or impede access to aircraft or other aeronautical contents of the hangar.
  • Storage of household items that could be stored in commercial storage facilities.
  • Long-term storage of derelict aircraft and parts.
  • Storage of items or activities prohibited by local or state law.
  • Fuel, and other dangerous and Hazmat materials.
  • Storage of inventory or equipment supporting a municipal agency function unrelated to the aeronautical use.

Question 10. For the purpose of airport access and hangar use, how are UAS categorized?

FAA Response. UAS activities regulated or authorized by the FAA are categorized as "aircraft operations" under 49 USC §47102(a)(6). Further, the interpretation of 49 USC §47107(a)(1) and Grant Assurance 22 includes certain UAS activities as aeronautical. Therefore, airport access for UAS, either as an aircraft or as an aeronautical activity is linked to FAA's UAS regulatory actions which may include, but are not limited to; airworthiness, operational rules, flight training, airspace integration, etc. An UAS operation is an aeronautical activity/use for the purpose of airport access and use, if the UAS (as a complete UAS system) is regulated by FAA as one of the following:

  1. Operations under 14 CFR Part 107 or any future 14 CFR UAS operating regulation; or
  2. Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) Section 333; or
  3. UAS operations with an Airworthiness Certificate issued under 14 CFR Part 21; and
  4. Under 49 USC 47107 (a), an activity necessitating the use of an airport's infrastructure , facilities, and services, protected airspace, or ATC services to conduct operations;
  5. UAS Department of Defense and Public Aircraft operations pursuant to 49 USC) 40102(a)(41) and 40125;

Question 11. In cases where an UAS operator seeks hangar access/use, how should the airport sponsor manage UAS vis-à-vis other conventional aircraft or aeronautical activities?

FAA Response. With the FAA Response to Question 10 as baseline, in all cases, the airport sponsor must reasonably accommodate the UAS activity without unjust discrimination and do so safely. Accommodating an UAS or UAS activity may necessitate:

  • developing safety requirements;
  • providing access to the airport runway and other movement areas (take-off and landing, taxing);
  • providing access to other airport infrastructure, airport protected airspace/surfaces, and airport services (including storage); and
  • access to undeveloped airport property.

Making hangar space available to an UAS operator is consistent with the federal obligations and established policy. UAS operator may "compete" with other aeronautical users for hangar space. This competition is also common for traditional users, namely airplane and jet operators, in places where demand is higher than the space available. Ultimately, it is the sponsor's decision on how it allocates hangar space. For example, a sponsor needs to consider many factors to decide whether to build a larger hangar for a jet corporate operator or smaller T-Hangars for single-engine aircraft.

In all cases, the FAA expects airport sponsors to exercise adequate discretion and reasonably apply lease terms, rules and regulations, rates, and take into account relevant variables. Such considerations may include: available space in vacant hangars; hangar sharing and subleasing; available ramp space; and land accessibility for UAS set-up, preflight, or storage. Related specifically to UAS operations and hangars, reasonable and non-unjustly discriminatory airport and hangar use will depend upon the type and characteristics of the UAS system in question. For example, a reasonable accommodation for a small Part 107 UAS may include permitting smaller storage structures (possibly mobile) creating training areas (i.e., secluded ramp area, "drone cage"), ingress and egress routes, etc. On the other hand, reasonably accommodating a larger Section 333 UAS with a 20-foot wingspan may include access to both standard hangar usually used by GA aircraft and the airport's taxiways. Finally, it is important to take into account that certain UAS operations may require addressing specific safety issues not previously considered for more traditional aeronautical activities. Any safety-based measures should be risk-based and coordinated with the FAA.

Question 12. What discretion does the policy allow the airport sponsor?

FAA Response. The policy:

  • Preserves the airport sponsor's discretion to manage or address issues, including:
    • (1) adopting rules covering the different uses of hangars;
    • (2) mitigating related safety concerns (e.g., emergency access, fire codes, insurance, and the impact of vehicular traffic);
    • (3) airport planning;
    • (4) preserving airport efficiency; and
    • (5) managing funding aspects of airport management.
  • Provides protection against claims of discrimination by imposing consistent rules for incidental storage in all similar facilities at the airport.
  • Provides airport sponsors with the ability to permit certain non-aeronautical items to be stored in hangars provided the items do not interfere with the aeronautical use of the hangar.
  • Allows an airport sponsor to request FAA approval of an interim use of a hangar for non-aeronautical purposes for a period of 3 to 5 years.
  • Allows an airport sponsor to request FAA approval of a leasing plan for the lease of vacant hangars for non-aeronautical use on a month-to-month basis.

Question 13. What are the policy changes for homebuilders?

FAA Response. The FAA understands the substantial convenience to aircraft builders of locating the entire aircraft construction process at the same location, specifically in an airport hangar. The new policy offers protections that never existed in the FAA's prior policy. First, the FAA recognizes amateur-built aircraft construction as an aeronautical activity to be accommodated at airports on reasonable terms, without unjust discrimination and without granting an exclusive right. Second, the new policy provides for the safe construction of amateur-built aircraft in hangars (see Question 8). As an airport asset management tool, an airport sponsor leasing a vacant hangar for amateur-built aircraft construction may incorporate progress benchmarks in the lease to ensure the construction project proceeds to completion in a reasonable time.

Question 14. Is it possible that some aspects of aircraft construction may not be permissible in all hangars?

FAA Response. Some hangars may not be designed to accommodate aircraft construction or all phases of aircraft construction. Airport sponsors have an obligation to mitigate inherent hazards in the operation, and to prevent unsafe conditions or practices. For example, a sponsor could prohibit painting or other use of volatile or highly flammable materials in a hangar.

Question 15. Does the policy apply to privately constructed hangars on federally obligated airports?

FAA Response. An airport sponsor's permission to lease aeronautical land on the airport for construction of a hangar accepts the sponsor's conditions that come with that land, in return for the special benefits of the location. The fact that the tenant uses the land through a ground lease with the airport sponsor and constructs the hangar using tenant funds does not affect the airport sponsor's agreement with the FAA. That agreement requires the airport land and facilities, including aircraft hangars, to be used for aeronautical purposes.

Question 16. May hangars be used for aviation museums or non-profit organizations activities encouraging aviation?

FAA Response. An airport sponsor, at its discretion, may provide access to airport property at less than fair market rent to aviation museums and other non-profit, aviation-related organizations (including aviation-focused community-based organizations). However, there is no reason for such activities to displace aircraft owners seeking hangar space for storage of operating aircraft, unless the non-profit or community activity itself involves use and storage of operating aircraft. Accordingly, aviation museums and non-profit organizations have the same access to vacant hangar space as other activities that do not actually require a hangar for aviation use.

Question 17. How does the use of a hangar affect the rent charged?

FAA Response. If a hangar is being used for an aeronautical use, the airport sponsor will generally charge the tenant the airport's standard rate for aeronautical leases, which should recover the airport's costs but which may be less than fair market rent. If the hangar is used for an interim non-aeronautical purpose, the sponsor must charge a fair market rent for the hangar. Please consult the Airport Compliance Handbook for the application of below-market rent for aviation museums and other aviation related non-profit organizations.

Question 18. If there is no unsatisfied aviation demand for hangars, can they be leased to generate revenue from non-aeronautical uses?

FAA Response. If a sponsor has empty aeronautical use hangars for which it has no current aeronautical demand, it may seek FAA approval to lease those hangars to non-aeronautical tenants in one of two ways.

Option 1 - When a sponsor wants to lease aeronautical hangars to a tenant for an extended time period (usually 3 to 5 years), it can request FAA approval for interim non-aeronautical use of a hangar until there is demand for an aeronautical purpose. The sponsor must charge a fair market commercial rental rate for any hangar rental or use for non-aeronautical purposes.

Option 2 - A sponsor may also request FAA approval of a leasing plan for the lease of vacant hangars for non-aeronautical use on a month-to-month basis. Once the sponsor receives initial FAA approval, it may lease the open space for consecutive 30-day periods without further approval. The sponsor must charge a fair market commercial rental rate for any hangar rental or use for non-aeronautical purposes. However, aeronautical use must receive priority consideration and accommodation over non-aeronautical use, even if the rental rate would be higher for the non-aeronautical use.