Except as provided in § 5.1-7.2, every person, before operating an airport or landing area or adding or extending a runway, shall first secure from the Department a license. The application therefor shall be made on the form prescribed and furnished by the Department and shall be accompanied by a fee not exceeding $ 100.Such license shall be issued for a period not to exceed seven years and shall be renewed every seven years. Before issuing such license, the Department shall require the holder of such license to furnish proof of financial responsibility prescribed in Chapter 8.2 (§ 5.1-88.7 et seq.).It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any airport or landing area which is open to the general public for the landing or departure of any aircraft until a license therefor shall be issued by the Department.Before issuing such license for the establishment of a new airport, the Department shall investigate the location of such airport or landing area with the relation to its proximity to and its runway orientation in relation to any other airport or landing area and shall provide for the safety of civil aircraft alighting thereon or departing therefrom. If the proposed airport or landing area shall be so situated as to endanger aircraft using the same or any other airport or landing area in close proximity, and if proper provisions have not been made in all other respects for the safety of aircraft alighting thereon or departing therefrom, the license shall not be granted. To be licensed, an airport required to be licensed under § 5.1-7.2 must meet this criterion and any applicable requirement provided for in regulation promulgated under this section, but no others.The Board may, by regulation, adopt any other requirements for licensure that are related to the safety of civil aircraft using such airport or landing area. Any airport having a license issued prior to October 1, 1995, and not meeting one or more minimum standards as defined in Part III (24 VAC 5-20-120 et seq.) of the Virginia Aviation Regulations, shall be exempt from having to comply with those noncomplying standards for as long as the airport remains an active public-use facility unless those noncomplying standards are caused by natural growth. Should such airport cease to be open to the public for one year, and subsequently reopen, it shall be required to comply with all applicable minimum standards for licensure.In addition to the above safety requirements, before a license is initially issued, the Department shall consider the reviews and comments of appropriate state agencies coordinated by the Department of Environmental Quality, and shall cause a public hearing to be held concerning the economic, social and environmental effects of the location or runway orientation of the airport or landing area if the facility is listed in the Virginia Air Transportation System Plan; however, such coordinated review by the Department of Environmental Quality shall not exceed 90 days after the Department has requested review by the Department of Environmental Quality. The public hearing required by this section shall be conducted by the Department of Environmental Quality in the jurisdiction in which the airport or landing area is located, after publication of notice of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in such jurisdiction at least 10 days in advance of such hearing.Any license issued shall describe the number of runways, the length and orientation of each runway and/or, if appropriate, the landing area.If a runway is to be extended or new runways are to be added, a revised license shall be applied for from the Department. If the airport or landing area is listed in the Virginia Air Transportation System Plan, the Department shall consider the reviews and comments of appropriate state agencies, coordinated by the Department of Environmental Quality, and shall cause a public hearing to be held concerning the economic, social and environmental effects of such changes to the license.Whenever a public hearing is called for herein, if there has been a public hearing associated with the development of any environmental documents to comply with the receipt of federal funds, the Department and the Department of Environmental Quality may rely on such document or hearing in carrying out their respective duties set out in this section.If an airport or landing area cannot meet the requirements for licensure that have been adopted by the Virginia Aviation Board, or having met those requirements cannot maintain compliance, the Department may issue conditional licenses to allow time for the airport or landing areas to take steps to meet those requirements or may revoke any license issued, if requirements for licensure are not met or cannot be met.Any party aggrieved by the granting or refusal to grant any such license shall have a right of appeal to the circuit court of the jurisdiction where the airport or landing area is to be located, which appeal shall be filed in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).All airports or landing areas that hold licenses or permits shall be issued new licenses, without charge, on or before October 1, 1995, describing the number, length and orientation of the runway or runways or, if appropriate, the landing area, which shall be valid for up to seven years. The length of the new license term may be staggered so that all licenses will not become renewable at the same time. If any airport landing area does not meet the current requirements for licensure, a new license may be issued.
Code 1950, § 5-7; 1966, c. 576; 1979, c. 272; 1980, c. 721; 1981, c. 326; 1991, c. 126; 1995, cc. 682, 690; 1996, cc. 148, 303; 2011, c. 75.