Some observations on Members ‘Announcements during the FAA AIP Grant season

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AIP funding defined by statute, regulations and extensive guidance

After entitlement dollars allocated, Cost/Benefit test decides priorities

Announcements Season: some Congressional claims DUBIOUS

 

The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides grants to public agencies — and, in some cases, to private owners and entities — for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). Because the demand for AIP funds exceeds the availability, FAA bases distribution of these funds on present national priorities and objectives.

AIP funds are typically first apportioned into major entitlement categories such as primary, cargo, and general aviation. Remaining funds are distributed to a discretionary fund. Set-aside projects (airport noise and the Military Airport Program) receive first attention from this discretionary distribution. The remaining funds are true discretionary funds that are distributed according to a national prioritization formula.

Benefit-Cost Analyses (BCAs) help identify proposed projects that will provide a net benefit to the aviation community. We require BCAs for all capacity projects that require more than $10 million in AIP discretionary funds but can request them for less costly projects, as well.

Airports can receive AIP entitlement funding; the annual grant is based on activity levels and project needs. If their capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, the FAA can supplement their entitlements with discretionary funding.

A statute, regulations and an extensive set of published criteria GOVERN the distribution of ENTITLEMENT funds and narrows the allocation of the DISCRETIONARY dollars reflecting the priorities dictated by the BENEFIT/COST analyses.

 

Annually (sometimes more frequently) the Secretary of Transportation, a political appointment, announces the grants being awarded. For example, the 2019 press release:

Press Release – U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $840 Million in Infrastructure Grants to 381 Airports in 47 States

For Immediate Release

June 5, 2019
Contact: Marcia Alexander-Adams
Phone: (202) 267-3488; Email: marcia.adams@faa.gov

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $840 million in airport infrastructure grants, the first allotment of the total $3.18 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airports across the United States.

“This significant investment in airport improvements will fund construction and rehabilitation projects that will help maintain high levels of safety in U.S. aviation,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

The 432 grants will fund infrastructure projects at 381 airports around the country. Selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons, and terminals.  The construction and equipment supported by this funding increase the airports’ safety, emergency response capabilities, and capacity, and could support further economic growth and development within each airport’s region.

Airport infrastructure in the United States, with 3,332 airports and 5,000 paved runways, supports our economic competitiveness and improves quality of life.  According to the FAA’s most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs.  Under Secretary Chao’s leadership, the Department is delivering AIP investments for the American people, who depend on reliable infrastructure.

Airports can receive a certain amount of AIP entitlement funding each year based on activity levels and project needs.  If their capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, the FAA can supplement their entitlements with discretionary funding.


This pronouncement launches a series of statements by various Members of Congress and the text vary in the degree to which these elected representatives CLAIM that he/she is responsible for the grant. In that the FAA’s existing policies and procedures are designed to limit/eliminate possible political intervention within the Executive Branch, the Senator’s and/or Representatives’ announcements are assigned ranking on a Pinocchio  Scale:

 

NO NOSE

FAA awards $21 million in grants to 17 Arizona airports

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that the Federal Aviation Administration will award $21 million in grants to 17 Arizona airports.

 

Wicker, Hyde-Smith Announce $5.68 Million for Improvements to Local Airports

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., today announced the award of $5.68 million for improvements to 12 airports in Mississippi. The grants will be awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

 

Airports in Douglas, Washoe and Churchill among 10 in Nevada to get $21.8 million in FAA grants

Minden-Tahoe, Reno Tahoe International, Reno Stead, and Fallon Municipal are among 10 Nevada airports awarded $21.8 million in Federal Aviation Administration infrastructure grants, federal officials announced Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said the funding is among $840 million in airport infrastructure grants, the first allotment of the total $3.18 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding for airports across the United States.

New Mexico airports to receive millions of dollars in federal money

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Airports across New Mexico will soon receive millions of dollars in federal aid. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded more than $13 Million in funding to be used at 16 airports in the state.

New Mexico lawmakers hope the project will boost tourism, grow business, and connect more people to the state. “This critical funding will bolster regional economies, boost tourism, and ensure that pilots and travelers can fly safely and easily,” said U.S. Senator, Tom Udall. The largest projects are in Doña Ana County, the Four Corners region and in Lea County…”


A LITTLE NOSE

 

 

 

 

Senator Collins Announces $13.8 Million for Three Maine Airports

 

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that airports in Biddeford, Eastport, and Jackman have been awarded a total of $13,800,000 from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

As Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins was instrumental in securing an additional $1 billion in AIP funding last year prioritized for small and non-primary airports such as Biddeford, Eastport, and Newton Field.

 

HOEVEN ANNOUNCES $22 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR FARGO, WATFORD CITY & HILLSBORO AIRPORTS

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded $22 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) supplemental grants to three North Dakota airports…:

Senator Shelby Announces $29.1 Million Grant for Huntsville Airport

September 18, 2018

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today announced that the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority will benefit from a $29.115 million federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).  The funding will be used for the construction of a new taxiway at the Huntsville International-Carl T Jones Field.

“We are grateful to Senator Richard Shelby for his continued contributions to our industry,” said Rick Tucker, Huntsville International Airport Executive Director. “Without Senator Shelby’s work on the appropriations committee, this would not be possible today.  He has once again acknowledged a need and done what was necessary to address it, benefitting the Huntsville-Madison County Airport Authority.  The funds secured will impact our facility as a whole and include improvements to the Jetplex Industrial Park, International Intermodal Center and the airport itself.  This announcement ensures our ability to continue economic development initiatives within our region and positively impacts our entire state.

 


ABOVE AVERAGE NOSE

New Mexico Delegation Announces $13.8 Million For Construction; Maintenance Projects At 16 Local Airports

Udall said. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations and Commerce Committees, I’ll keep fighting to secure strong federal investment to strengthen airport infrastructure and ensure access to safe, reliable air travel for each and every New Mexican.”

Wiscasset airport to receive $369K

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that nine airports across Maine have been awarded a total of $3,490,995 from the Department of Transportation. That includes $369,000 for Wiscasset Municipal Airport to remove obstructions. 

U.S. Sen. Collins announces $100K for Greenville airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that nine airports across Maine have been awarded a total of $3,490,995 from the Department of Transportation (DOT)


LONG NOSE

 

 

 

 

Young Announces $18 Million for Indiana Airports

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) today announced that Evansville Regional Airport and Fort Wayne International Airport will receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) supplemental grants totaling $18.1 million. Senator Young urged Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao to support funding for these important Hoosier airports. 

BLUNT ANNOUNCES $7.5 MILLION FAA GRANT FOR JOPLIN REGIONAL AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operation, Safety, and Security and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), today announced that Joplin Regional Airport will be awarded a $7.5 million grant through the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

Blunt. “I’ve been proud to advocate for the Airport Improvement Program, which is especially important for our regional airports. I’ll continue supporting efforts to enhance passenger safety and strengthen our state’s air transportation network.”

Joplin Regional Airport Manager Steve Stockam. “The larger commercial aircraft are great news for our customers but have taken a toll on the 25-year-old taxiway that supports our main runway. With the support of Senator Blunt, this Supplemental Funding Grant has provided a window of opportunity to address this deteriorating taxiway immediately. Reconstructing Taxiway D now will ensure we will have the infrastructure in place to support the continued growth of our commercial service as we look to add frequency and new service routes.

Reed Announces New $30M Airport Improvement Grant for T.F. Green Airport

Federal funds will help pave the way for needed repairs and upgrades to runway and taxiway infrastructure at T.F. Green Airport

5/10/2019 —

WARWICK, RI – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD), announced a new $30 million Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant to the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) for safety and efficiency improvements at T.F. Green Airport.

“I want to thank Senator Reed and the entire federal delegation for their continued advocacy of T.F. Green Airport.  It is critical that we continue to invest our infrastructure and this grant allows us to do just that. Investments like this also allow us to be competitive in this region.  In short, investing in our infrastructure is an investment in Rhode Island’s economy,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.


JIMINY CRICKET NOSE

 

 

 

 

NYS OFFICIALS BRING MILLIONS TO BINGHAMTON AND SYRACUSE AIRPPORTS

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Congressman Anthony Brindisi (D-NY-22) today announced $3,126,599 in federal funding for Greater Binghamton Airport. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Specifically, the funding will be used to reconstruct Greater Binghamton Airport’s runway, runway lighting, and airfield guidance signs.

The title earns this ranking. Though the members did not write it; they did not object.

Senator Cantwell Announces $5.2 Million Grant for Pullman-Moscow Airport Improvement

SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has received $5.2 million to make critical improvements to their runway through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

SEATTLE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has received $5.2 million to make critical improvements to their runway through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

As former chair and current ranking member of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, Cantwell has made airport infrastructure and air travel high priorities. Since 2014, Cantwell has helped airports across Washington state secure more than $21,240,000 in funding including for airport improvements and increased air travel.  Cantwell has also lead the way in ensuring Sea-Tac Airport has the resources it needs to reduce security wait times, including bomb sniffing canines.

Cantwell is also a co-sponsor of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017. In addition to reauthorizing the FAA, the bill increases authorized funding for the AIP, which pays for infrastructure like the Pullman-Moscow airport runway, by $400 million to an annual level of $3.75 billion. The bill also requires a study and recommendations on upgrading and restoring the nation’s airport infrastructure.

 


A WHOPPER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOLLOWING SCHUMER’S PUSH AT NIAGARA FALLS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LAST YEAR, SENATOR ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL $500 MILLION FOR THE FAA’S AIRPORT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM, BRINGING ITS TOTAL FUNDING UP TO $3.85 BILLION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2019; SAYS FUNDING BOOST CAN BE USED TO MAKE LONG-SOUGHT UPGRADES AT AIRPORTS ACROSS WESTERN NY

Press Release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, following his push, the recently passed minibus appropriations bill includes an additional $500 million for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP), bringing its total funding for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) up to $3.85 billion.

[NOTE: the Senator is in the Minority Party of the Senate.]


Congress’ role in AIP is authorizing and appropriating funds; so to the extent that there is credit for these grants, the Senators and Representatives deserve praise. And the existence of the complex, narrow processes and funding criteria were established after hearings investigating whether Congressional intervention influenced a few dubious awards. Those protections obviate the value of a friendly Member’s call or letter. By this history, many of the innuendos quoted above appear to be meritless.

Another bit of insight—Members of Congress of the opposition party asserting that their “push” was the reason for a grant cannot be given much credit. Assuming that such power exists, arguendo, it would be highly unlikely that the Administration would exercise its penumbra of power to benefit an opponent. Such an action would violate the principles of political science.



 

 

 

 

 

 

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