Legal Aspects of Airport Programs. Topic 1-06. Who is the Owner or Operator for Purposes of the Right to Self-Fuel?

The Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 (The Act), 49 U.S.C. § 47101 et. seq., and the Airport Improvement Program Sponsor Assurances required of all airport federal grant recipients, provide that the owner or operator of any airport that has been developed or improved with federal grant assistance operate the airport for the use and benefit of the public and to make it available for all types, kinds, and classes of aeronautical activity, including the self-fueling of aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues Advisory Circulars that not only identify standards and procedures for compliance with federal law, but also define and clarify the meaning of aviation terms, such as self-fueling. The FAA defines self-fueling as, "the fueling of an aircraft by the owner of the aircraft or the owner's employee. Self-fueling means using fuel obtained by the aircraft owner from the source of his/her preference." The definition and meaning of self-fueling must be distinguished from that of commercial self-service fueling, which the FAA defines as, "fueling of an aircraft by the pilot using commercial fuel pumps installed for that purpose." Generally, commercial self-service fueling is not considered self-fueling as granted under the sponsor assurances, but is an aeronautical service concept in which a fixed base operator (FBO)-one who engages in the activity of airport fueling- and/ or sponsor makes aircraft fuel available commercially to the aircraft by a fuel pump and credit card reader; however, this research should assist in clarifying these distinctions. Notwithstanding these FAA provisions, a review of rules and regulations of airport sponsors reveals variations in the definitions and provisions for self-fueling, commercial self-service fueling, self-service, an FBO, and other related terms. Furthermore, aviation attorneys have been faced with questions concerning the restrictions of the Act and other related laws and regulations. Is an airport restricted from excluding in full or in part the services of an independent FBO? What is the definition of the term "owner/operator" for the purposes of the right to self-fuel? Under what circumstances, if at all, can a sponsor restrict certain aircraft from fueling at the airport? What, if any, of these restrictions are associated with self-fueling? What are the limitations and prohibitions concerning the granting of exclusive rights leases and permits? There is no immediate source to which an attorney can turn to obtain the answers to these questions or at least a comprehensive interpretation of federal and state guidelines and how they have been applied under different circumstances. Aviation, government, environmental, and other interested attorneys; legislative and administrative personnel; airport developers; aviation managers; and researchers have need of a thorough understanding of the meaning of and constraints involved with self-fueling and to distinguish this concept from commercial self service fueling. A primer is needed that will contain basic coverage of the subject, including appropriate regulations, and offer model definitions and provisions obtained either from existing airport rules and regulations or developed anew.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $31000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 11-01, Topic

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Chisholm-Smith, Gwen

  • Performing Organizations:

    Prather, Daniel, Consultant

  • Principal Investigators:

    McDaniel, James

  • Start Date: 20080101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20090301
  • Source Data: RiP Project 18102

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01462592
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 11-01, Topic
  • Files: TRB, RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:06PM