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AOPA vigilance ensures grant protection will keep GA airports strongAOPA vigilance ensures grant protection will keep GA airports strong

AOPA vigilance ensures grant protection will keep GA airports strong

AOPA is delving into regulatory nitty-gritty to make sure proposed changes to the FAA's Airport Improvement Program (AIP) protect the interests of general aviation airports.

AOPA recently reviewed the FAA's proposed changes to the AIP grant process. AIP grants provide federal monies to help maintain, develop, and improve airports, and AOPA wanted to be sure that GA airports get every available penny of the funds they're entitled to.

"This is 'down-in-the-weeds' regulatory stuff, but this kind of detail work on the part of AOPA is essential to ensure the future of GA airports," said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports.

In comments on the FAA's proposed changes to the AIP, Dunn wrote that the FAA must continue its policy that airport-generated revenue be devoted exclusively to airport infrastructure development.

"Airport funding needs exceed the available funds by a factor of two or more. We reviewed the regulations to make sure that changes to the airport grant process don't reduce the scarce money available for maintenance and improvements to general aviation airports," Dunn said.

AOPA concurred with the FAA's assessment that the changes in federal grant assurances would reduce confusion and streamline the process.

And the association applauded the addition of clarifying language that ensures public-use airports are operated efficiently and that all tenants are treated fairly.

But AOPA put the FAA on notice that it would oppose any changes that would divert general aviation airport funds to uses other than maintenance and infrastructure improvement.

AOPA noted that there have been attempts to use airport revenue for non-infrastructure purposes such as air carrier service subsidies or recruitment.

"We commend the FAA...for denying these requests," Dunn said. "The use of airport-generated revenues for airport infrastructure development is vital.

"The federal grant assurances play an important role in providing the FAA with the necessary oversight to ensure that our national system of airports continues to be a premier part of our national transportation system," said Dunn.

"To that end, the FAA's oversight authority through grant assurances should not be minimized, but protected."

November 11, 2004

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