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I live in Wheeling IL. Our town owns the municipal airport there. Most of the residences here want to close down the airport. Can the FAA stop us from closing the airport?

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't KPWK co-owned by Wheeling & Prospect Heights? $\endgroup$ – Robᵩ Mar 7 '18 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Reference the lengthy, ongoing battle over closing SMO $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Mar 7 '18 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Did the airport accept FAA improvement funds in the past? If so there are stipulations that the airport must be kept open for a certain duration (usually 50 years or forever). $\endgroup$ – Steve Kuo Mar 7 '18 at 23:25
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Frequently, municipal airports are created and/or operated with funds granted by the Federal Government that contain contractual obligations that the airport remain operating until a particular date or certain conditions.

I don't know about that particular airport.

Even if a municipality owns the airport free-and-clear without contractual obligations to operate it, the FAA does have a lengthy process for shutting down an airport.

Since you're in Wheeling, you may be familiar with Meigs Field, which was abruptly closed against FAA rules, leaving airplanes stranded, charts incorrect, and airplanes attempting to land at an airport that didn't even have a functional runway anymore!

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Closures of airports are only impeded by the FAA (or other agencies) when there are contractual obligations. Many airports receive federal grants which provide for portions of runway development and even snowplows to keep the runways clear in the winter. However that grant money is restricted in how it, and things paid for with it, can be used.

So for example, a town owned airport which gets funds for a snowplow for the airport with federal monies, cannot use that snowplow and truck in general highway service. There are exceptions, for example, in disaster relief, and with FAA permission for certain circumstances.

A nearby privately owned airport, which received a large amount of federal aid, was discovered to have their airport equipment (trucks, excavators, bulldozers, etc.) parked at a family member's construction business, 35 miles away. This put their federal funding in jeopardy and caused assessment of fines and sanctions by the FAA.

In the case of publicly owned, federally funded airports, there are often political forces at play, which can modify the outcome. Similarly, well connected owners of an airport who use the airport facilities and equipment for non-aviation purposes (like federally funded hangers for storage of boats and RVs) may not suffer the expected sanctions and loss of federal funding. Politics and business creates another vector force.

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KPWK? If the FAA has provided any funds to the airport, the closure may be impeded by the feds. Of course that didn't stop the midnight closure of Meigs Field.

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