February 14, 2009
By Warren D. Morningstar
Congress sent President Barack Obama a $787 billion economic stimulus package on Feb. 14. President Obama signed the bill in Denver Feb. 17. The compromise bill between the House and the Senate includes $1.1 billion extra for airports.
“Economic stimulus money for general aviation was an absolute priority for us when we started working with the Obama administration after the election,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “Investments in GA airports will create jobs immediately and improve our transportation infrastructure.”
The additional money for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds will be available, at the FAA’s discretion, to any airport with a project ready for construction within 120 days of the grant application. Regular AIP grants are distributed by formula, with the bulk of the money going to air carrier airports.
AIP economic stimulus grants are also 100 percent federally funded, so states and municipalities don’t have to come up with matching funds to get the money.
“That’s very important now as local governments are struggling to meet their budgets,” said Fuller. “GA airports could apply for these grants to install lights and other projects to support new WAAS approaches, improving their safety and utility, and making the airports even more effective economic tools.”
AOPA had worked with Congress to ensure lawmakers understood the economic impact of GA on the national economy and the potential for economic stimulus by funding airport projects.
Third class medical reform is taking too long, but AOPA will keep advocating for change and the prospects for reform in 2015 are good.
An Arizona airport ramp usually packed with business aircraft was transformed to a venue for fun and joy for 135 special-needs children and family members.
Pilots and aircraft owners have volunteered to transport hundreds of sea turtles rescued in Massachusetts to facilities equipped to care for them.
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