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Sunday, February 25, 2001

PA insists Teterboro cannot handle bigger jets

Staff Writer

Can it or can't it handle a private jet in a commercial airliner body?

That's the central question surrounding the main Teterboro Airport runway and a brewing controversy about whether the Boeing Business Jet -- a 171,000 pound behemoth by corporate jet standards -- should be given access.

In the end, the answer will come from stress and engineering tests evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The agency's Eastern Region staff is conducting an informal review of the runway before deciding whether to allow the Business Jet, a converted 737, at Teterboro.

"Our customers have asked us not to give up on this," said Steve Barlage, regional sales director for Boeing Business Jets. "Our studies have found, along with several others, that the airport itself can handle it."

Officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey say it can't, and plan to contest any decision that allows the Business Jet to use Teterboro.

"We are going to work as diligently as possible to not only protect the airport's weight limit, but to keep the airport non-commercial," said Port Authority Aviation Director Bill DeCota. "Our position is that the airport cannot sustain this use. This is how we built the airport."

Teterboro, a public airport, has had a 100,000-pound weight restriction since 1967 that officials have defended as the limit the runways and taxiways can handle. Since Teterboro uses public money to operate, it must accept any aircraft it can physically handle, according to FAA officials.

"This current mediation is also informal," Port Authority spokesman Greg Trevor said. "Even if the FAA makes a determination at this level, we don't have to comply immediately. That process will still go on."

Authority officials said if the Boeing jet is approved by the FAA Eastern Region, the agency will appeal it at the federal level, and then in court, if necessary.

"This can go to Washington to decide, after that the courts," DeCota said. "From everything we have done, all of our engineering analysis . . . the airport was not built with physical facilities to accommodate the types of planes we are talking about."


Staff Writer Lisa Goodnight contributed to this article.


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