What’s In Your Hangar?

If the inside of your hangar looks like a preview of A&E’s seventh season of Hoarders, you might be in violation of your airport’s minimum standards concerning hangar space. What’s the big deal?

Besides being unsightly, there are a number of reasons why airports, and the FAA for that matter, discourage or forbid tenants from using their hangars for non-aeronautical use.

Grant Assurances

Airport sponsors who accept federal grants have to comply with conditional grant assurances that last the life of the agreement and in some cases, beyond. The airport has a responsibility, upon accepting grant money, to adhere to these assurances and the FAA is pretty strict on this one.

Here’s what the FAA had to say in regards to an effort by Glendale Municipal Airport’s efforts in 2011 to be in compliance with grant assurances:

An airport owner is obligated to use aeronautically designated land and facilities for aeronautical purposes. Hangars located on airport property designated for aeronautical use may only be used in direct support of aeronautical purpose. Aircraft storage hangars may be used to store only aircraft, items which are used on or for aircraft, or incidental items for personal convenience while using the hangar (so long as any such stored personal convenience items are determined to be acceptable by the airport manager).

Airport Revenue

Tenants who only use their hangar space for personal storage are not purchasing fuel or FBO services from the airport. It’s no secret that hangar storage is significantly cheaper than public storage space, especially when it comes to a seldom used RV, boat, automobile or motorcycle.

Hangar Insurance

As noted in our Hangar Network eNewsletter, July, 2013, be careful to read the clauses in your hangar insurance policy and, more importantly, be vigilant as to what activities take place within your hangar so your insurance coverage is not denied and you are left footing the bill.


Never mind that unplanned half a can of paint falling off the top shelf onto your head or you tripping over a garden hose you can’t remember why you are storing in your hangar, a prevailing reason for hangar fires is hazardous storage and clutter.

An airport in Maryland had a large hangar fire in 1999 that destroyed five T-hangars and several aircraft. In one of the hangars, a mechanic was using a generator to operate a makeshift shop. The neighboring hangar was being used to store paper documents. The generator caught fire and all five hangars lit up like a match.

Waiting Lists

Hangar space at your local airport may be scarce and nothing infuriates an aircraft owner more than to see somebody frying donuts out of their plane-less hangar while taxiing to the tie downs.

Snohomish County Airport in Washington state has initiated a hangar cleanup campaign in an effort to comply with airport policy. In their recent airport newsletter, Paine Field Happenings, they wrote, “The most important lease compliance issues to the Airport are fire code, building code, emergency access and hangar use.”

Here are some items you’re pretty safe to have in your hangar:
✈Aircraft (Okay, that’s a no brainer.)
✈Aircraft tow bar of similar aircraft towing equipment for the storage and/or removal of the aircraft in the hangar
✈Aircraft flight and maintenance logs, to include filing cabinets as needed for orderly storage of these logs
✈A desk for the purposes of conducting flight planning or other directly aeronautical purposes
✈A printer for the purposes of conducting flight planning or other directly aeronautical purposes
✈A small refrigerator or coffee pot used for personal convenience while using the hangar (so long as this is acceptable to the airport manager)
✈Items to maintain an aircraft, even if such items may not be used in the hangar but instead elsewhere on the airport such as an aircraft wash rack or maintenance apron. (All stored items must be permitted by local fire codes, airport rules and regulations, and other local ordinances)

Alright folks, it’s time to clean out  your ‘man cave’ intended for your aircraft. It makes sense from aesthetics and safety to FAA and airport compliance.