Two pieces of airport-related legislation passed the House under suspension of the rules, a procedure generally reserved for noncontroversial bills.
H.R. 6014, which passed unanimously on Sept. 21, is intended to increase coordination between the FAA, states, and federal agencies working on airport improvement and expansion projects. It authorizes the FAA to enter into “reimbursable agreements” with states, which could make completing airport projects more time- and cost-effective. Under the bill, such agreements must include measures for cost-effective completion of the project and cannot negatively affect the safety or efficiency of the National Airspace System.
"We appreciate Representative Nolan’s support of commonsense solutions to the challenges facing airports," said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “His proactive approach will save taxpayers money and help keep development projects on track.”
In his letter explaining the importance of the measure, Nolan cited a plan to build a new $1 million hangar at a regional airport in his district. Construction of the hangar, which is expected to bring new business to the airport, requires two 25-foot antenna towers to be moved. According to Nolan, the FAA initially intended to take full control of the relocation project at an added cost of approximately $500,000, while the Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division said it could complete the same work in compliance with FAA regulations for approximately $17,000.
“Therefore, my measure will not only increase airport project efficiency, but save federal taxpayer dollars and relieve airports and private sector investors of unnecessary cost burdens from the Federal Government,” Nolan wrote.
The second measure, H.R. 5944, was introduced by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to protect access to federal Airport Improvement Program funds for airports that lease property at below market rates to support U.S. Air Force and National Guard aircraft operations. Eligibility requirements for Airport Improvement Program funding generally require that airports charge self-sustaining rates for use of property and facilities. That measure passed Sept. 20.