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House passes bills to expedite airport upgrades, improve notams

H.R.468, the Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021, approved by the House on June 15, would enable the use of Airport Improvement Program funds to incentivize early completions of critical runway and airport projects.

Under the measure, the airport grant program—which provides funding to public-use airports for the planning, development, and execution of airport infrastructure projects—would regard incentive payments made by airport sponsors to their contractors for completing projects early as costs eligible for reimbursement.

“This is a smart reform that can help deliver airport projects ahead of schedule, relieve operational disruptions at airports caused by unfinished projects, and save money,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the bill’s lead sponsor and the ranking member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, in a news release. “Getting projects done sooner rather than later can essentially provide a similar impact as increasing investment without requiring any additional federal resources.”

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Aviation and a co-sponsor of the measure, added that the bill is “a win-win for airports and taxpayers alike.”

“We need to make sure our airports are ready to handle the increase in travel—whether vacations, leisure or business trips,” he said. “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.”

Enhancing flight safety by improving the “presentation, accuracy, and completeness of information” contained in notams is the goal of the bipartisan H.R1262, the Notice to Airmen Improvement Act of 2021, which also passed the House on June 15.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), both members of the Aviation Subcommittee.

“As a Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’ve heard from a number of pilots who have expressed concerns over the inefficiencies of the NOTAM system,” Stauber said in a news release. “Modern aviation is incredibly safe, but in order to keep it that way, we must constantly work to improve upon safety protocols. That’s why I am proud to lead legislation that will help iron-out the kinks in the NOTAM system and make both commercial and general aviation even safer than it already is. Americans are more excited than ever to travel, so I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this commonsense bill and promoting safety in our skies.”

AOPA strongly supports the measure, said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Coon.

“Improving long overdue changes to these safety-of-flight notifications will be very welcomed by pilots,” he added.

The National Business Aviation Association also backed the notam initiative as a benefit for the pilot community.

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