- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Feds probe Lebanon airport
Oct 03, 2005 12:00 am
September 29, 2005
Federal and state officials have launched a formal inquiry into business practices at Lebanon Municipal Airport, focusing on competition for flight instruction businesses at the facility.
According to federal and city officials, the formal inquiry was the result of a complaint lodged to the Federal Aviation Administration office in Memphis by an attorney representing Lebanon Aviation LLC.
City Attorney Andy Wright explained the company leases two "tie down" spaces at the airport for airplanes and leases the planes through a local flight instructor to area residents seeking flight instruction.
Wright and Lebanon Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines said the conflict began because airport fixed-base operator Middle Tennessee Aviation is contractually bound to provide flight instruction through its arrangement with city government to manage the airport.
Baines, a voting member of the city's airport authority, said city officials and the fixed-base operator have maintained Middle Tennessee Aviation did not have to allow competition for flight instruction or other aeronautic services.
"I've been here for 15 years, and I've never seen an arrangement that allowed someone to come onto the airport and compete with the fixed-base operator," Baines said.
Though Wright could not provide The Lebanon Democrat with a copy of the complaint at press time Wednesday, he did say state officials with the Tennessee Aeronautics Division – a wing of the Tennessee Department of Transportation – have told his office the city and its contractor are wrong about the exclusive business rights of fixed-base operators.
Wright said state officials handling the inquiry for the Memphis FAA office pointed out because the airport has accepted numerous federal grants over the years, it must allow such competition. Wright said the city was under the impression fixed-base operator agreements were an exception to that rule in some instances.
"They (state officials) have told me the city is incorrect," Wright said. "We have to provide space for people to do business at the airport."
Wright said state officials with TDOT are "arbitrating" the inquiry, noting the matter is considered less than a formal complaint under the FAA's guidelines.
Memphis FAA Airport District Office Manager Charles Harris confirmed to the newspaper an inquiry is being conducted into the Lebanon airport but would not comment for the story.
Managing Editor Clint Brewer can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 13 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.