Source: Angela Bartlett-Johnson via Facebook

Timberview Helicopters to resume commercial operations out of Destin Executive Airport

Source: Angela Bartlett-Johnson via Facebook

On Thursday, April 13, 2023, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners approved an operating agreement with Timberview Helicopters, allowing them to resume commercial operations out of the Destin Executive Airport.

  • The move follows a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year, which found that the county had discriminated against Timberview on economic grounds.

The vote took place following an Executive Session during a Special Meeting at the Okaloosa County Administration Building. Commissioner Nathan Boyles made the motion to adopt the operating agreement, which was seconded by Carolyn Ketchel.

  • However, Boyles noted that the decision was not one that brought the commission any joy. “It’s complex, and litigation is ongoing,” he said. “And I think that’s an important note to make.”

In August 2021, the county terminated Timberview’s operating agreement at Destin Executive Airport, citing concerns over the impact of helicopter operations on safety, tourism, quality of life, and military missions.

Timberview challenged the decision in a Part 16 Complaint with the FAA, arguing that it was discriminatory and violated Grant Assurance 22, which states that airport sponsors must make the airport available for public use without unjust discrimination to all types of aeronautical activities, including commercial activities.

On February 21, 2023, the FAA ruled in Timberview’s favor on one claim of economic discrimination, giving the county 30 days to either appeal or submit a corrective action plan detailing how it plans to eliminate “unfair and unjust discrimination and revoke unreasonable access and flight restrictions on Timberview and other users.”

  • During Thursday’s meeting, Airport Director Tracy Stage confirmed that they have the FAA’s letter of authorization, certificates of insurance for all aircraft, and a county contract.

Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel expressed hope that Timberview would be “good neighbors” going forward.

  • “Going forward, we have to remember that we’ve done everything we can possible,” she said. “No matter what the outcome is here, I will go forward in faith and hope that Timberview will be good neighbors.”

There was no specific timeline given as to when Timberview would resume commercial operations at Destin Executive Airport.

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