House Panel OKs Bills To Fix Notams, Expedite Projects

 - March 25, 2021, 10:24 AM
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Bills to improve the Notam system and incentivize expedited airport projects cleared the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee on Wednesday.

Introduced by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-California) and Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota), the Notice to Airmen Improvement Act of 2021 (H.R.1262) calls for a government/industry task force to review and make recommendations to improve the presentation, accuracy, and completeness in the FAA’s Notam system. Under the bill, the FAA would create the task force, appointing members from the business and general aviation community, human factors specialists, safety experts, air carrier representatives, and labor representatives. The bill would require the task force to review the system and report its recommendations within a year.

The bill has drawn strong backing from NBAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “We welcome this legislation, which aims to enhance not only the availability of that information but to improve the way it is presented, to the benefit of our pilot community,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen.

“Establishing an FAA-industry task force to develop recommendations for improving long-overdue changes to these safety of flight notifications will be very welcomed by pilots,” added Jim Coon, senior v-p of government affairs and advocacy for AOPA.

Along with the Notam Improvement Act, the T&I Committee also approved the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021 (H.R.468), which would make early construction completion incentives eligible for federal grants through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

Introduced by T&I ranking member Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and aviation subcommittee ranking member Garret Graves (R-Louisiana), the bill adopts an approach in use for road and bridge projects, providing incentives for projects that would increase capacity and efficiency and result in cost savings as a result of the shortened project. The bill would cap the incentives to 5 percent of the initial construction cost or $1 million, whichever is lower.

“This is a smart reform that can help deliver airport projects ahead of schedule and save money, essentially providing a similar impact as increasing investment without any additional federal resources,” Rep. Sam Graves said.

Rep. Garret Graves added, “Now that vaccines are being distributed and administered across the country, we need to make sure our airports are ready to handle the pent-up demand from decreased travel over the last year.”

He called the bill a win-win for airports and taxpayers. “This legislation takes successful, existing road project programs and implements the same efficient practices to get airport improvement projects completed faster, meaning we will improve the efficiency and capacity of our airports while handling a runway or taxiway that is temporarily out of service.”