After months of review and debate, a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration for another 5 years has made it out of committee and will soon be voted on by the full House and Senate.
The legislation this year contains a gift for the operators of smaller airports in rural areas across the country: an infrastructure grant program that will help fund runway and facility construction and upgrade projects.
As currently written, the bill, known as H.R. 302, will also keep intact the FAA’s popular Airport Improvement Program, offering grants for airport infrastructure work funded at the $3.5 billion level for each of the next five years.
That level of spending would be unchanged from the last authorization.
The new program will allow for discretionary grants targeting medium-sized and small airports in rural areas where the population is less than 50,000 people.
If passed, the program would have available up to $1 billion a year for the next fiscal year, a number that would gradually increase between 2020 and 2023.
Grants in the new program would see an 80 percent federal share, with the remaining 20 percent comprised of state and local governments or the airports themselves.
In a statement, Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, lauded what he called a “bicameral, bi-partisan multi-year reauthorization of the FAA.”
“This important legislation provides the FAA with the long-term funding it needs to carry out its safety mission and guarantee that the United States will continue to lead the world in all things aviation.”
The legislation also reauthorizes the Transportation Security Administration, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board.
By Garry Boulard
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