The FAA is continuing to refine its categorization of the nearly 3,000 GA airports around the country, picking up where it left off in last spring’s General Aviation Airports: A National Asset. That study identified the many functions airports provide, among them medical transport, search-and-rescue, disaster relief, aerial firefighting, law enforcement, remote community access, flight training and air cargo. Considered a tool to assist the agency and state aviation authorities in planning decisions, the study reflected current aviation activity at the airports.
FAA airport categories
FAA statistics show a total of approximately 5,175 public-use airports in the U.S., down by approximately 170 since 2000. While many of the lost facilities were small strips suitable solely for small aircraft, there were a few notable closures such as the infamous midnight destruction of Chicago’s Meigs Field in 2003 and the closure of Atlantic City New Jersey’s Bader Field in 2006. According to the statistics, 27 facilities closed their doors in 2006, ranking that year as first for airport closures since 2000.
A shakeup in the methods by which federal funds are allocated to GA airports through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) could soon be in the works.
A story on general aviation airports in the September 17 issue of USA Today, and a companion video news segment broadcast that same day on NBC’s Today show, drew intense fire from the aviation alphabet groups representing general and business aviation.
Four former military airports that have been converted to civilian airports have been granted funds under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The airports are Portsmouth (N.H.) International; Sawyer International in Marquette, Mich.; Plattsburgh (N.Y.) International; and Killeen-Fort Hood Regional in Killeen, Texas.
The FAA is facing questions about its proposed Airport Improvement Program (AIP) redistribution and its possible effect on the needs of small airports. A preliminary report from the Government Accountability Office says smaller airports will not be able to rely on passenger facility charges to offset any reduction in AIP funding.
The Iowa DOT’s office of aviation reports that the federal funding program approved by Congress and signed by President Bush last month bodes well for the state’s 77 airports, only eight of which offer airline service. Under the reauthorized Airport Improvement Program (AIP), local authorities of eligible airports now need to supply only 5 percent of funds required for airport projects.
As many predicted, the House Appropriations Committee restored the nearly $1 billion that the Bush Administration stripped from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) in its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2007.