AOPA to Congress: Support Airports

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In testimony (PDF) before a House Aviation Subcommittee, AOPA President Mark Baker urged continued funding for airports because they are “the true backbone of aviation.” The hearing was convened by Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., who is also a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, to consider how anticipated growth in air traffic will affect the physical infrastructure of the nation’s airports and to look at sources for financing infrastructure needs. Baker told the subcommittee that general aviation airports rely on federal money, making it vitally important that Congress maintain Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding at least at current levels.

“General aviation airports rely on AIP funds to execute a wide range of maintenance, expansion, and improvement projects that address safety, capacity and environmental concerns. The need for such projects is high,” Baker said. Funding for the federal Airport Improvement Program comes from the FAA’s Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which receives revenues from a series of excise taxes paid by users of the national airspace system, including taxes on aviation fuels. The Trust Fund was designed to finance investments in the airport and airway system

Without federal funding, many small airports could not perform necessary maintenance projects to ensure runway safety, provide airport lighting, or offer essential facilities like hangars and aircraft tie-downs, Baker said. According to a recent FAA report to Congress, airport infrastructure needs far exceed available funding. From 2013 through 2017, the FAA estimates that airports will require some $42.5 billion to meet all AIP-eligible infrastructure development demands. That’s significantly more than the roughly $3.35 billion annual allotment.