FAA finalized its “residential-through-the-fence” policy, following through on a congressional mandate and easing a ban on agreements that permitted pilot access to airport runways and taxiways from adjacent homes. The new policy reverses a March 2011 interim policy that prohibited new through-the-fence access points.

FAA had long discouraged through-the-fence accords, but had received a number of requests for permission for those agreements. Also, a number of members on Capitol Hill backed their continued use, and Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 directed FAA to permit them. The congressional language specified that the agreements must include reasonable access charges and the property owners must bear the cost of building and maintaining the access infrastructure if an airport sponsor deems it necessary. The property also must be maintained for residential, noncommercial use and cannot be used to access the airport from other properties. The bill further prohibited aircraft refueling on the property.

FAA a year ago issued a draft policy implementing the mandate. In that policy, FAA says it is amending sponsor assurances to clarify that commercial service airports are not permitted to enter into residential through-the-fence arrangements, but that other general aviation airport sponsors may enter into such arrangements as long as all points of the law are followed.

The final policy, released July 16, clarifies the review process and compliance requirements.