Vision 100 speeds airport projects

 - July 25, 2007, 5:28 AM

When President Bush signed the FAA reauthorization act (generally known as Vision 100) late last year, the bill called on the agency to work with airports, communities and other agencies to protect the environment while sustaining the economic vitality that will result from continued growth of aviation.

Now the FAA has issued an order outlining revised internal policies and procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Effective June 8, the new policy streamlines the environmental review process and puts in place planning procedures for important safety and capacity projects.

In 2001 the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) submitted a legislative proposal called the “Expedited Airport System Enhancement (EASE)” to Congress that would reduce aviation system gridlock. The goal was to speed runway construction and other critical expansion projects at the nation’s airports by streamlining and expediting current environmental reviews without compromising environmental laws.

Both airport groups applauded the FAA’s recent action. “We’re pleased to see that, as passenger traffic and aircraft operations are again rising, the FAA has implemented relief measures to ensure that critical airport projects receive prompt attention,” said ACI-NA president David Plavin. “With access to a more streamlined and speedy review, airports can now get to the business of efficiently increasing capacity and reducing delays.”

His counterpart, AAAE president Charles Barclay, agreed: “With the FAA’s revised order, many critical safety, security and capacity projects at some of our nation’s most congested airports will finally see a much more coordinated and expedited review.”

Vision 100 includes other provisions, also advocated under the EASE initiative, that are also addressed in the FAA’s revised order. These provisions will assist in facilitating the timeliness and completion of environmental reviews and include airport funding for FAA staff and consultants, and the elimination of the Governor’s Air and Water Quality certificate requirement.