Heated meeting today between aircraft owners and Airport Authority over mechanics and security

Local News

Security is a top priority at airports across the country, but some advocates in Erie say that emphasis could unnecessarily put aircraft mechanics out of work. 

Jackie Roberts was at the heated Airport Authority meeting today.

The bottom line is that unauthorized personnel are on airport property; that’s what some representatives with the Erie Regional Airport Authority are saying.  But, members of the aviation community say what they’re asking is just not feasible. 

Mark Youngs has more than 20 years of flying experience under his belt, but he says this is the first time he’s standing up to the Erie Regional Airport Authority over 13-year old policy. “We hire these mechanics to come on property with us and work on our aircraft and they’re trying to put them in the category of setting up shop.” 

The authority sent out two letters indicating aircraft owners would no longer be permitted to hire a third-party mechanic to operate on airport property without a significant fee and airport approval.

Dan Galvin, Air Craft Owner, tells us, “The letter was very strong. They threatened to take our security clearances away from the airport and ban us from the property completely if we were caught doing maintenance on our airplane against their agreements.” 

But, officials with the airport say their main concern is addressing policies that they haven’t been following for many years. Derek Martin, Airport Director, says, “When people come off from the airport that we have no knowledge of, we don’t know if they’re meeting the qualifications that are required by the Federal Aviation Administration.” 

Originally, the letters stated officials would begin enforcing the policy on November first. But, after a heated meeting, members of the Airport Authority agreed to postpone that deadline until getting a legal opinion.

If the regulation goes into effect, aircraft owners would likely end up using only North Coast Air mechanics which, they say, are often times costly and not always the most effective option.

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