January 11, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
The FAA should withdraw a proposed revision of airport improvement grant terms that would require many airports accepting federal dollars to identify and mitigate wildlife hazards as a condition of receiving the funding, AOPA said in a regulatory filing.
The proposal, which would mandate wildlife hazard site visits or wildlife hazard assessments as a condition of receiving new grants, would be costly and beyond the scope of statutes and FAA guidance for the Airport Improvement Program, AOPA said.
In its Federal Register notice published Dec. 10, 2012, the FAA also proposed a compliance schedule for airports without a Part 139 certificate—essentially, general aviation airports—to carry out one of the two wildlife management procedures within three or five years, and updates every five or 10 years. The requirement would apply in the event of acceptance of airport improvement grants or in the event of a land transfer for airport uses under the Surplus Property Act.
With financial pressures mounting and reauthorized federal airport improvement funding down, the terms would prove an onerous burden to many smaller airports, wrote John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, in the association’s formal comments on the proposal.
“An airport sponsor is in a difficult situation trying to comply with the requirements in a time of decreasing budgets and resources available for all airport improvements and normal operations,” he wrote.
Given the proposal’s inconsistency with statutory provisions on grants, the financial implications for airports, and the brief period allowed for comments during a holiday period, AOPA requested that the proposal be withdrawn and reviewed by the FAA’s compliance and safety standards watchdogs “to ensure a less onerous requirement.”
AOPA also urged the FAA to seek additional stakeholder input before bringing forth a revised proposal, Collins said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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