On June 13, a bipartisan bill known as the FLIGHT Act (H.R. 2879), or Forward Looking Investment in GA, Hangars, and Tarmacs, was introduced in the House by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), co-chair of the House General Aviation Caucus, and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) a member of the House General Aviation Caucus. Both also serve on the House Aviation Subcommittee.
The legislation is identical to the bill introduced in the Senate (S. 1320) June 8 by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). The bill would give GA airports more flexibility to access funding while working to ensure a safer and more effective national network of airports. The proposal also helps expedite the environmental review process and provides designated “Disaster Relief Airports” with appropriate funding.
The legislation also allows the FAA to designate “Disaster Relief Airports,” which would allocate at least 4 percent of NPE funds for emergency planning, equipment, or facilities in the case of natural disasters.
“The FLIGHT Act takes an important step in giving communities the ability to access the resources they need to make their airports safer and more competitive,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We’d like to thank Congressman Graves and Congresswoman Bustos for their support and dedication to the betterment of our general aviation infrastructure and for allowing local airports to receive the necessary funds crucial to their long term success.”
The NPE program was the focus of Baker’s April testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, where he had the opportunity to highlight the importance of GA airports during humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts.
“General aviation is an essential form of transportation in this country, but that is especially true in rural America. As the small airports supporting GA age, our facilities need to be modernized to continue providing reliable service to these communities,” Graves said. “The FLIGHT Act will give GA airports investment flexibility by opening up existing funding sources, presenting a much-needed, commonsense solution to the problems facing our nation’s small airports. I thank Senators Inhofe and Duckworth for their work on this in the Senate, and I look forward to partnering with Congresswoman Bustos to see this bill through the House.”
“So many of the small towns and rural areas in our region depend on general aviation airports, and we need to ensure that they have the tools and resources necessary to succeed,” Bustos said. “The FLIGHT Act will give general aviation airports more flexibility with federal funding to complete improvement projects and support local jobs and economic development. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Congressman Graves on this important issue, and I’ll continue fighting to make job-creating investments in all our airports, big and small.”
The legislation is also designed to jumpstart reinvestment and revitalization by allowing funds to be used for marketing and education programs hoping to attract private sector investments.
The FLIGHT Act also reflects an updated hangar-use policy, one that AOPA has strongly advocated, which looks to modernize current needs of GA flying and aircraft ownership by recognizing construction, repair, and restoration of recreational aircraft as an aeronautical activity, and subsequently protecting airport sponsors against losing eligibility toward federal aid in the future.