October 31, 2012
By Benét J. Wilson
AOPA believes that federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants for general aviation airports should be preserved because of the important role these airports play within the national air transportation system. This is in stark contrast with a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution that recommends cutting the AIP mandatory spending floor for GA airports.
The report, released Oct. 25, focuses on international commercial air travel, noting that growth in international passengers during a 21-year period more than doubled the increase in domestic passengers. The report recommends that airports serving these flights should receive a greater share of government aid at a cost to GA airports nationwide. These redirected AIP funds would be above and beyond what large airports are already collecting through passenger facility charges.
"General aviation airports are used by businesses of all sizes to generate opportunities and create growth in communities that aren't easily accessible by commercial aviation,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “It is vital that AIP funding for small and non-hub airports remain in place to help pay for critical infrastructure projects. These airports are a lifeline to communities across the United States that rely on general aviation for disaster relief, emergency medical transportation, and basic services like law enforcement and fire-fighting.”
The network of GA airports across the country also infuses both urban and rural areas with much-needed tax revenue and jobs. According to the FAA, in 2009 (the last year for which figures are available) non-airline operators at GA airports spent more than $12 billion, making an estimated 27 million flights for emergency medical services, agricultural functions, time-sensitive air cargo services, fire-fighting, law enforcement and border control, flight training, business travel, and some scheduled services.
In the same study, the FAA also noted that “having a well-developed system of GA airports throughout the country supports commerce while also providing a safety net of airports to support emergency aircraft diversions when necessary due to mechanical problems, medical emergencies, deteriorating weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
Airport Improvement Program Funding,
Safety and Education
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
The Aircraft Spotlight feature looks at an airplane type and evaluates it across six areas of particular interest to flying clubs and their members: Operating Cost, Maintenance, Insurability, Training, Cross-Country, and Fun Factor.
The AOPA Internet Flight Planner (AIFP) 2.0, powered by Jeppesen, is now available in beta for all AOPA members to test. The beta period is open through early 2015.
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