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Update From the Hill

May 01, 2024 14:25 | Anonymous

Earlier this year, I was able to participate in the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., which brought together representatives from twenty-five states. Among the distinguished guests were FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker, Congressman Rick Larsen (WA), FAA Associate Administrator for Airports Shannetta Griffin, congressional staffers, and delegates from major aviation associations.

Our discussions centered on critical aviation policy issues, with a focus on enhancing air service to small communities through collaborative efforts between the FAA, states, and local municipalities. Valuable insights were shared regarding the FAA reauthorization bill and updates were provided on key activities within the FAA Office of Airports.

The concerns voiced by the states reflected a shared commitment to advancing common priorities in federal reauthorization legislation. These priorities include (but not limited to):

  • Ensuring robust aviation funding and modernizing the non-primary entitlement program.
  • Providing federal support for the transition to florine free firefighting foam at airports.
  • Enhancing weather observation resiliency and redundancy.
  • Preparing for the integration of uncrewed aircraft systems & advanced air mobility into the airspace.
  • Safeguarding air service to small communities.
  • Improving the timeliness of FAA issuance of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants.

NASAO's State Members pictured with the Honorable Michael Whitaker (Administrator of the FAA) at NASAO's 2024 Washington Conference (Photo by Daniel Stanley).

For additional details on all national priorities advocated by the states, please visit the NASAO website at 

The main concern that has been shared across the states is that FAA Reauthorization is currently “stuck” in continuing resolutions, with funding approved for only a few months at a time. This poses a significant challenge for the upcoming 2024 construction cycle as the absence of a fully funded FAA program until at least the end of the current federal fiscal year hinders the FAA’s ability to proceed with its full program. In states like North Dakota with short construction cycles and contractors with busy schedules; the delay in project funding undoubtedly poses additional challenges. Congress has until May 10th before the current extension expires, and we urge Congress to prioritize the passage of a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill and work to provide the FAA with the resources needed to maintain and modernize our aviation system.

Additionally, states have shared concerns with the complexity of the federal programs and variety of funding programs.  Since 2020, airport projects have had to navigate through various funding mechanisms outside of the Airport Improvement Program. The acronyms for these various programs includes: CARES, CARESA, ARPA, BIL AIG, BIL ATP, BIL FCT, and Supplemental AIP.  While the additional funding has been beneficial, the complex funding environment has presented significant challenges due to differing criteria, application deadlines, and eligibility requirements. Moreover, high project costs have necessitated multiple federal grants being required from different programs for the exact same project.  This has required each project to be split into identifiable usable units of work and results in additional grant management requirements.

It is imperative that our nation returns to a framework where the Airport Improvement Program serves as the primary funding source that is adequately funded, timely, and aligned with the evolving needs of the aviation industry. 

Additionally, there is unanimous agreement among states on the need to simplify and streamline the allocation of federal funding for airport projects. Sometimes, simplicity itself proves to be a bold and effective solution.

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North Dakota Aviation Association

PO Box 627
Bismarck, ND 58502

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