Following Brush’s denial, city making efforts to update rules, standards prior to skydiving proposal
Fort Morgan Municipal Airport may host the skydiving operation rejected by Brush, the Orange Skies Free Fall Center, Public Works Director Steve Glammeyer confirmed.
Though it has not been guaranteed or approved by the City Council, the city was approached by and is working with the company on how they may be able to come to the city’s airport to operate.
“We are working with that same operator to see if we can’t accommodate their business at our airport,” Glammeyer said on Monday afternoon.
He said currently they are working through a three step process before confirming the operation.
Part I: Airport minimum standards
Volunteers transfer donated food and toys from a plane to a truck at Fort Morgan Municipal Airport on Dec. 8, 2018, during the 2018 Veterans of Foreign Wars-Colorado Aviation Business Association airlift. (Kara Morgan / The Fort Morgan Times)
Before that may happen, they are currently taking this opportunity to update the airport minimum standards and airport rules and regulations, Glammeyer said, for any future organization that may approach the airport for use.
“We’re preparing for not only our skydiving business operation, but any operation that may want to locate to the airport, whether it’s an aeronautical activity, or a non-aeronautical activity, like a restaurant or something,” Glammeyer explained.
“What we don’t have currently is a very good set of what they call ‘airport minimum standards’ to deal with any of those facilities, should they want to operate or relocate to Fort Morgan Airport,” he added.
For the airport minimum standards he is drafting, Glammeyer says he is drawing from, with permission, the standards of similar airports in the area, including the Greeley-Weld County Airport, the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport, now known as the Northern Colorado Regional Airport, the similarly-sized Yellowstone Airport, and the Longmont Airport (Vance Brand Municipal Airport).
Glammeyer said he is also researching guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidance standards, the National Air Transportation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Part II: Rules and regulations
Once those standards are drafted, Glammeyer said he would next work to update the airport’s rules and regulations as an appendix to the standards. He said he believes those were last updated in 2004.
Glammeyer explained his plans: “I’ll freshen those up, they’ll be an appendix to the minimum standards. I’ll kind of get those all adopted at one time.”
Glammeyer would bring those to the Airport Advisory Board and to the Fort Morgan City Council.
Part III: Operating agreement
If those are completed and approved, Glammeyer said that is when they would next approach a potential operating agreement with the skydiving operation.
“The third layer, for a specific aeronautic activity, is an agreement of some sort that allows them to operate at the airport,” he explained.
Though it is not drafted yet, Glammeyer said this would likely include “insurance information, waiver copies, and other information.”
Glammeyer explained the importance of setting these different standards and rules up for the airport: “That just sets the tone for how they will` operate out there, now and in the future.”
He added that this process will take a bit of time to complete, before coming before the advisory board or City Council.
“That said, it’s going to take time to get all those together. I’m working as rapidly as I can, because I know the Orange Skies Free Fall folks are ready to operate at Fort Morgan,” he explained.
“I’m trying to get these done, but I don’t want to rush them through and not have a nice set that fits for everybody,” he added.
Glammeyer said he had found a previous agreement the city had put together for a skydiving operation from back in 2014, but he said he wanted to make sure the city did their best to ensure certain standards for airport operations moving forward.
FAA Grant Assurances
One of the reasons the skydiving operation is likely to end up operating out of the city’s airport is specific ‘assurances’ or obligations the airport is under since it receives funding from the FAA, Glammeyer said.
He explained that it would be difficult for the city to ‘reject’ the operation without specific, defined concerns for why it did not want the operation there.
That was one big difference between the Fort Morgan and Brush airports and their abilities to reject operations from coming to the airport, he said. He said he believes Brush does not receive FAA funds.
“When you accept those types of funds at your facility, they come with requirements that you cannot deny an FAA-defined aeronautical activity … you can’t really deny them access or operation at or on your airport property,” Glammeyer explained.
Allen Kenitzer, with public affairs at the FAA, shared the city’s 2018 grant from the FAA that appears to confirm Glammeyer’s statement. It does state that the city is held to a listed set of grant assurances. Under the assurance No. 22 on the list, economic discrimination, the document says of the city: “It will make the airport available as an airport for public use on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical activities, including commercial aeronautical activities offering services to the public at the airport.”
Kenitzer said skydiving does fall under ‘aeronautical activities’.
The FAA website generally defines what a ‘grant assurance’ is: “When airport owners or sponsors, planning agencies, or other organizations accept funds from FAA-administered airport financial assistance programs, they must agree to certain obligations (or assurances).”
“These obligations require the recipients to maintain and operate their facilities safely and efficiently and in accordance with specified conditions,” it continues.
Glammeyer said the city is able to outline the rules and standards any operators must follow, part of the reason they are taking this chance now to put those together.
“What you can do is have them operate under your minimum standards and rules and regulations, and an agreement. But you can’t just flat-out deny them,” he added.
“They can be denied, but it has to be for very specific reasons and in particular, skydiving operations, you have to really show a safety hazard or something of this nature in order to deny that type of activity,” he explained further.
“But certainly we’re not in that situation,” he added. “Brush was in a different situation than we are.”
Though there may be a way the city could reject the operation, Glammeyer said that they are generally open to new business in the city.
“We’re business-friendly; we want to be business-friendly. We like to have businesses at our airport, so we’re going to do everything we can to accommodate requests,” he said. “Assuming we don’t fall into a category where it becomes one of those situations where we would go to the FAA and request that we would be able to deny access.”
On the Orange Skies Free Fall Center, Glammeyer said: “This guy seems to be on the up and up, and we just want to make sure that we can get them operating in a way that meets our standards. And I think we can.”
Kara Morgan: [email protected] or 970-441-5103
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