Detail

House Passes FAA Reauthorization, Including Roundtable-Backed “One Engine Inoperative” Language Regarding Allowable Building Height

  • May 23, 2019

Legislative language that could affect the allowable heights of buildings near airports passed the House today (393-13) as part of a bill ( H.R. 4 ) extending authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years. 

The so-called One Engine Inoperative (OEI) language included in the House-passed FAA bill addresses an Obama-era proposal that could affect land development and property values near U.S. airports.  The  proposed 2014 policy change would alter decades-old standards by compelling the FAA to consider whether a building or other structure poses a hazard to navigable airspace if a plane engine fails on takeoff.   

The FAA's current funding and revenues are set to expire this September 30.  With the House's passage of FAA reauthorization today, the Senate is expected to follow suit and aims to have long-term reauthorization in place by August. ( Roll Call , April 16 and CNN , April 27) 

The so-called One Engine Inoperative (OEI) language included in the House-passed FAA bill addresses an Obama-era proposal that could affect land development and property values near U.S. airports.  The proposed 2014 policy change would alter decades-old standards by compelling the FAA to consider whether a building or other structure poses a hazard to navigable airspace if a plane engine fails on takeoff.    

According to a study of the issue, approximately 4,000 buildings near 380 airports throughout the U.S. could become "non-conforming" if such OEI policies were ever to take effect.  The proposed standards would modify take-off and landing flight paths in a manner that restricts allowable building heights and development potential in growth centers and transportation hubs surrounding the nation's airports.   

When the FAA proposed the policy change, it explained it was not due to any public safety concerns but rather to allow airlines to carry more passenger and freight cargo.  [See technical comment letter submitted July 2014 by The Roundtable and coalition partners]. 

The language passed by the House would require that any changes to current OEI policies must first go through a full public rulemaking process.  Additionally, the White House Office of Management and Budget would be compelled to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of any such FAA action.  

The Roundtable, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT), and other real estate trade groups have long urged Congress to include the OEI rulemaking and cost-benefit language in any FAA reauthorization bill. (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 12, 2016).  

The Roundtable will continue to monitor the Senate's actions on FAA reauthorization and urge inclusion of similar provisions as the legislation now moves to the other side of Capitol Hill.