January 29, 2009
By Warren D. Morningstar
The U.S. House of Representatives recognized the importance of general aviation in the $819 billion economic stimulus package passed Jan 28.
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would pump an additional $3 billion toward airport improvements,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “That’s money that could be spent now on projects benefiting general aviation airports. I’m very pleased that the House heard our arguments that investment in general aviation would create jobs immediately and improve our transportation infrastructure, which will yield economic benefits for decades.
Fuller made special note of Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, “who started pushing for including airport projects in the stimulus package last year.”
The additional money for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) would go to airports that have “shovel ready” projects that could go to contract within 120 days of receiving FAA approval. There are no formulas for distributing the money, unlike the “regular” AIP grants.
“This money could be used to improve the safety and utility of GA airports by installing lights and other projects to support WAAS approaches to the lowest possible minimums,” said Fuller.
AOPA, along with other aviation associations, had provided information to members of Congress to ensure they understood the economic impact of GA in the national economy.
“While the House bill provides $3 billion for airports, and the Senate is considering economic stimulus legislation that currently proposes a smaller amount of additional AIP funding,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. “Once the Senate passes its final bill, we will be pushing for the bigger investment for airports as the House and Senate work to resolve the differences in a conference committee.”
Advocacy and Legislation
A federal agency chartered to secure national borders has been working inland, targeting general aviation with no clear authority.
The board of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority will wait 120 days before making a final decision to close Braden Airport, citing community concerns.
Sometimes in politics, the good news is that bad news won’t happen. Thanks to AOPA, antique aircraft collectors and aviation employers in Louisiana dodged legislative bullets that would have raised the costs of aircraft ownership or of doing business.