Airport Planning and Development Grants.
Section 101: Authorizes $3.4 billion in FY2004; $3.5 billion in FY2005; $3.6 billion in FY2006; and $3.7 in FY2007 for the FAA's Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
More than 3,360 airports and 2,558 general aviation airports are eligible for federal AIP funds. These funds, which are doled out in accordance with federal standards, are the primary funding sources for airport improvement projects and also fund important noise mitigation issues. AOPA worked to ensure that funding levels were adequate to meet the developmental needs of our nations general aviation airports. The Airport Planning and Development Grant funding levels of Vision 100 are a 23-percent increase over the previous legislation (AIR-21), which established a federal rule that authorizes a $150,000 annual AIP entitlement specifically for general aviation airports.
"Federal Funding for Hangar Development"—Flexible Funding For Nonprimary Airport Apportionments—Nonprimary Airports
Section 149: At the Secretary's discretion, support facilities, including fuel farms and hangar, are allowable for an airport development project at nonprimary provided the airport has made adequate provisions for financing airside development needs.
Previous to this legislation, fuel farms and hangar developments were not eligible for federal funding. A major concern for AOPA members continues to be the availability of aircraft storage space, which will hopefully be addressed by this legislation.
Flexible Funding For Nonprimary Airport Apportionments—In Same State or Area
Section 149(c): Provides that an airport sponsor may make an agreement with the Secretary waiving the sponsor's claim to any part of an AIP grant if the Secretary agrees to make the waived amount available for a grant for another public-use airport in the same State or geographical area as the airport.
Previous to this legislation, un-used grant money was reprogram by the FAA as "discretionary funds." Oftentimes, these funds went to larger airports in other parts of the country. The addition of this language should help to keep federal money intended for general aviation airports, benefiting other nearby general aviation airports.
Use of Apportioned Amounts
Section 151: Increases the amount from 34 percent of discretionary to 35 percent for noise projects.
This permits funds to be appropriated for compatible land use planning projects carried out by state and local governments.
Pilot Program for Purchase of Development Rights
Section 152: The Secretary may make a grant for up to 10 airports for a state or political subdivision for the purchase of development rights associated with a privately owned public use airport. The grant will be issued under section 47114 (apportionments) and will require an easement or other covenant requiring the airport to remain a public use airport in perpetuity. The Secretary shall prescribe the grant approval procedures and requirements of the covenant or easement.
AOPA helped developed the concept for this new pilot program to help save privately owned, public use airports. There are more than 1,154 privately owned public use airports nationwide. These airports are at a greater risk of being closed and the property sold to developers.
Airport Privatization Pilot Program
Section 155: The secretary may approve a waiver at any nonprimary airport participating in the privatization pilot program after consulting with at least 65 percent of the owners of aircraft based at the airport.
The Airport Privatization Pilot Program is a program established in 1996 that permits a sponsor of a public use airport that has received Federal assistance from certain federal requirements in connection with the privatization of the airport by sale or lease to a private party. The pilot program permits five airports to participate, one of which can be a general aviation airport. This section addresses a major concern AOPA has had with the airport privatization pilot program by requiring consultation with general aviation users for waivers from revenue diversion and fee increases at a nonprimary airport participating in the FAA's Airport Privatization Pilot Program. Previous to this legislation, the airline tenants were consulted with, but no equal consideration was ever given for general aviation tenants.
Increase in Government Share of Airport Grants
Section 161: Implements a special rule for airport improvement grants for FY2004 through FY2007 that the federal share shall be 95 percent rather than 90 percent.
AOPA favored this change because often times smaller communities have difficulty in raising the necessary funds to cover the remaining match. In addition, states that also share in a portion of the match are facing severe budget cuts that are making it more difficult for them to meet their portion. This change will help ease the burden on state and local communities and allow them to take advantage of these federal funds for airport improvements.
Grant Assurances—Private Hangar Construction
Section 165: Amends §47107(a) to grant long-term lease to any person for constructing a hangar at the airport for aircraft owned by that person based on an agreement with the airport.
"Meigs Field Legacy" Closure of an airport without providing sufficient notice.
Section 185: Establishes a new federal law stating that a public agency may not close an airport listed in the national plan of integrated airport systems (NPIAS) without providing written notice to the FAA at least 30 days before the date of the closure. The notice would then be published in the Federal Register. A public agency violating this section shall be liable for a civil penalty of $10,000 each day that the airport remains closed without having given the required notice.
AOPA worked to ensure this section was written so as to prevent another "midnight massacre" of an airport like Meigs Field. Prior to this legislation, federal law never required the public reasonable notice of a potential airport closure.
Noise Disclosure—study to determine feasibility
Senate Section 322: The FAA shall conduct a study to determine the feasibility of developing a program under which prospective homebuyers of property located in the vicinity of an airport could be notified of information derived from noise exposure maps.
Homeowner awareness of the proximity to an airport is an important first step in compatible land use. Airport noise concerns continues to be a significant threat to gaining a community's support of an airport. Many states and local communities have developed their own real estate disclosures for an airport and this legislation would look to expand that. In addition, the legislation requires the FAA to make available to the public Noise Exposure Maps at airports where they have been prepared.
Program for Community Flexibility of EAS Funds
Senate Section 405: Establishes a program for not more than 10 communities to forego any essential air service assistance for a 10-year period in exchange for a grant equal to twice the value of the annual EAS assistance received in order to improve airport facilities in a way that make the airport more usable for general aviation.
Runway Safety Areas
Section 502: Airports in Alaska shall not be required to reduce the length of a runway or declare the length to be less than the actual pavement length in order to meet Runway Safety Area standards. Requires a study of runways in States other than Alaska to determine which airports are affected by RSA standards and how operations at those airports would be affected if the owner is required to reduce the length of a runway to meet RSA standards. That report shall be conducted no later than 9 months after the enactment of the act and shall be transmitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.
Often times and airport is faced with having to displace a runway threshold in order to meet the FAA's Runway Safety Area criteria. AOPA is in favor of the study in this legislation to explore how aircraft operators are affected by the reduction in runway length.
Certificate Actions In Response to a Security Threat.
Section 601: Provides U.S. citizens affected by the FAA/TSA airman revocation rules a hearing is conducted before an administrative law judge whose decision can be appealed to the Transportation Security Oversight Board.
This allows a U.S. citizen, whose airman certificate has been revoked or denied on the grounds of security, an appropriate due process.
Justification for Air Defense Identification Zone.
Section 602: Requires the FAA to report to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation no less than 60 days after establishing a new ADIZ around Washington, D.C. The report shall include a description of changes that could improve operational efficiency for pilots and controllers. The FAA shall make the initial report no less than 30-days from the date of the act on the existing ADIZ around Washington, D.C.
Flight Training of Non-US Citizens
Section 612: A person operating as a flight instructor, pilot school, or aviation training center may not provide flight instruction to an alien in an aircraft weighing more than 12,500lbs without first providing the Secretary of Homeland Security information about the alien seeking flight training. Information that must be provided includes: full name, passport and visa information, country of citizenship, date of birth, dates of training, and fingerprint data collected under the supervision of a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency or another agency approved by the FBI.
The legislation also includes wording regarding an expedited waiting period for individual who has previously undergone a background records check, employed by a foreign air carrier, foreign military pilot endorsed by DOD, or has unescorted access to a secured area of an airport is specified not to exceed five days. The legislation also includes a provision for notification to the Secretary for an alien requesting training in an aircraft less than 12,500 pounds.
Reimbursement For Losses Incurred By General Aviation Entities.
Section 817: Provides reimbursement for GA entities at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, airports within 15 miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, operators affected by the 12,500-lb training rule, operators affected by the stadium overflight rules, and sightseeing operations unable to resume in enhanced class B airspace.
AOPA fought for this provision that provides for financial reimbursement of losses incurred by General Aviation Entities due to security costs incurred and revenue forgone as a result of post-9/11 security restrictions around Washington, D.C., as well as banner towers.
General Aviation Flights at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Section 823: Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and implement a plan to permit general aviation aircraft to land and take off at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. States that the FAA shall allow general aviation aircraft that comply with the plan to takeoff and land unless the President suspends the plan due to national security reasons. If the President suspends the plan, the President shall submit a report on the reasons for the suspension to the Senate Committee and the House Committee no later than 30 days.
December 15, 2003