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Trinity County
The Airport Improvement Program (AIP)

Background Information

To promote the development of a system of airports to meet the Nation's needs, the Federal Government embarked on a grants-in-aid program to units of state and local government shortly after the end of World War II. This early program, the Federal-Aid Airport Program (FAAP), was authorized by the Federal Airport Act of 1946 and drew its funding from the general fund of the Treasury. In 1970, a more comprehensive program was established with the passage of the Airport and Airway Development Act which provided grants for airport planning and development projects. These two programs, the Planning Grant Program (PGP) and the Airport Development Aid Program (ADAP), were funded from a newly established Airport and Airway Trust Fund. By the time the two programs expired in September of 1981, approximately $4.5 billion were approved for airport planning and development projects.

The current grant program, known as the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), was initially established by the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 and was later amended by the Airport and Airway Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1987 which also created a new funding category for air cargo activity. Funding for the program was originally established through fiscal year 1992 to include projects for airport development, airport planning, for noise compatibility planning and noise abatement programs.

The AIP was extended for one additional year in 1993, and on August 23, 1994, President Clinton signed into law legislation to authorize FAA programs through Fiscal Year 1996. The AIP bill appropriated $1.69 billion in FY 1995 and $1.45 billion in FY 1996 for airport development programs nationwide.

On April 5, 2000, the President signed the legislation commonly referred to as "AIR 21" (Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century). This legislation included a four-year AIP authorization starting with FY 2000 and ending with FY 2003. Of the authorized $2.75 billion, the appropriated funding for FY 2000 was $1.81 billion, which is slightly less than the FY 1999 program. The AIR 21 legislation increased the minimum entitlement level for non-hub primary airports and the FAA's pilot "pavement maintenance program" was adopted and allows for "routine work to preserve and extend the useful life of runways, taxiways and aprons".

Program Funding  

The Airport and Airway Trust Fund provides the revenue source used to fund AIP projects. Taxes and user fees are collected from the various segments of the aviation community and placed in the Trust Fund. These revenue sources include taxes on airline tickets and freight waybills, international air carrier departure fees, and fuel taxes on general aviation gasoline and jet fuel.

The 1982 Act, as amended, defined eligible airports into five categories: Commercial Service Airports, Primary Airports, Cargo Service Airports, Reliever Airports and General Aviation Airports. In Massachusetts, 26 airports are potentially eligible for AIP funding. Two of the 26, Logan International Airport and Hanscom Field in Bedford, MA, are owned and controlled by the Massachusetts Port Authority (MASSPORT). The remaining 24 airports fall under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC). Of these 24 airports, six are designated as Primary Airports, four are designated as Reliever Airports, and the remaining sixteen are designated as General Aviation Airports.

Funding for the AIP is distributed under specific guidelines contained in the 1982 Act, as amended. The FAA distributes entitlement funding for Commercial Service and Primary Airports based on the number of enplaned passengers using the airport. General Aviation (GA) Airports, including Reliever Airports, also receive their funding from the FAA, but individual states determine the distribution of funds based on a ceiling provided by the FAA.

The new AIR 21 legislation also includes provisions that come into play when the total Airport Improvement Program (AIP) amount for a year is at least $3.2 billion. One of these provisions provides that non-primary airports will be entitled to receive annual AIP funding of the lesser of $150,000 or 20 percent of their needed funding as shown in the current published National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). Non-primary airports include commercial service, general aviation, and relievers. The current NPIAS is 1998-2002. A new NPIAS is expected to be published some time in 2001.

Funding of projects that qualify under the AIP are typically divided into three sources: federal, state and local. The Federal share of most projects is 90 percent of the eligible cost to be reimbursed under the AIP. The remaining 10 percent is usually divided between the state and the local airport sponsor. In Massachusetts, the MAC currently funds up to 7 percent of the non-federal share of projects under AIP, thereby relieving the local airport sponsor from a significant financial burden, resulting in a contribution from the host community of only 3 percent of the total cost of a project.

Eligibility Guidelines  

Grants for projects under the AIP are typically only given to publicly owned, public use airports with a few exceptions. Further, to be eligible for a grant, an airport must be included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The NPIAS, which is prepared by the FAA and published every 2 years, identifies public-use airports considered necessary to provide a safe, efficient, and integrated system of airports to meet the needs of civilian aviation, national defense, and the Postal Service. The NPIAS currently contains approximately 3,700 airports.

Recipients of grants are commonly called sponsors. Sponsors must meet basic qualifications set up by the FAA to receive AIP grants. In addition, a sponsor must be legally, financially, and otherwise able to assume and carry out the assurances and obligations contained in the project application and grant agreement. AIP grants are issued to airport sponsors for the following types of activities:

  • Airport Planning    Typical planning projects may involve planning on an areawide or individual airport basis, ranging from large integrated airport system plans for states, regions, or metropolitan areas to smaller master plans for individual airports. These plans identify and evaluate the aviation facilities needed to meet the current and future air transportation needs of the particular study group.

  • Airport Development   Eligible development projects may include facilities or equipment associated with the construction, improvement, or repair of an airport (excluding routine maintenance). Typical work items include: land acquisition; site preparation; vegetation management projects (including tree clearing); construction, alteration, and repair of runways, taxiways, aprons, and roads within airport boundaries; construction and installation of lighting, utilities, navigational aids, and aviation related weather reporting equipment; safety equipment, including equipment for aircraft rescue and fire-fighting; security equipment; snow removal equipment and buildings to house such equipment; limited terminal building development; and equipment to measure runway surface friction.

  • Airport Capacity    The 1987 Act provides for a portion of AIP funds to be spent on projects which significantly enhance or preserve airport capacity. A typical Capacity Study may identify facilities and/or recommend procedures to improve efficiency of air traffic operations, which could lead to several Airport Development Projects at the airport.

  • Noise Compatibility   Eligible projects consist of items that are contained in an airport noise compatibility program approved by the FAA under the provisions of the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 150. Soundproofing of buildings which are affected by noise from a nearby airport are typical projects eligible for AIP funds. Eligible projects include soundproofing of public schools and hospitals, as well as the soundproofing of local residence.

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

Projects determined to be eligible under the AIP are programmed by the FAA with input from state agencies into a "Capital Improvement Plan" commonly referred to as the CIP. The CIP is dynamic in that it often changes depending on several factors, including, but not limited to, the availability of funds, sponsor priorities, and readiness of the project sponsor. Given this uncertainty, it is important to limit the "out year" programming in order to maintain the integrity of the plan, and for this reason, the CIP is limited to 5 years.

The FAA Regional Office, with input from the Sponsor and MAC, develops the CIP for Primary Airports. Programming of discretionary funds is based on a priority system whereby airports compete against each other on a national basis. The MAC assumes responsibility of the CIP for GA and Reliever Airports and allocates moneys from state apportionment funding received from the FAA.w