2022 Airport Consultants Council Technical Workshop Key Takeaways
Every year, aviation experts gather at the Airport Consultants Council (ACC) Technical Workshop to learn about industry updates, technological advancements, and funding opportunities. This year, workshop sessions covered Runway/Airspace Management (RAM) tool updates and best practices for grant applications and funding opportunities. Our team rounded up the key takeaways in case you missed the workshop!
Runway/Airspace Management Tool Updates
Airport sponsors that accept Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant funding are required to meet certain grant assurances. Among these assurances, airports must protect airspace in approach and departure surfaces and update the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) obstacle database after obstacle clearance.
To assist airports in completing these requirements, the Airport Data and Airspace Branch (AAS-120) developed the new RAM tool within the Airport Data and Information Portal system to allow for the mitigation of Obstacle Authoritative Source data. A replacement for the EB-91 project-type option within the AGIS Survey module, the user-friendly and transparent RAM tool provides airport sponsors with direct access to obstruction data and the ability to update that information on an as-needed basis.
Many airports do not have the staffing resources or GIS tools to maintain up-to-date tracking of airfield obstructions. The RAM tool can be utilized by airport sponsors to track their obstruction inventory more effectively and mitigate potential hazards or antiquated data. The tool also streamlines the documentation and communication processes by allowing airports to communicate directly with the FAA. Additionally, frequent obstruction tracking as required by the RAM tool can benefit operational safety, runway utilization, and future planning efforts by helping identify obstruction mitigation priorities and maximum runway length available for aircraft takeoff and landing.
As with any information database, the RAM tool can only realize its full potential if the source data is current and accurate. Therefore, airports should invest time up front to completely update their obstruction inventory to accurately reflect existing conditions. Of note, new obstacles must still be submitted via Form FAA 7460-1 – Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration or as part of a survey in accordance with FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-18B, Change 1 – General Guidance and Specifications for Submission of Aeronautical Surveys to NGS: Field Data Collection and Geographic Information System (GIS) Standards Document Information.
Funding and Administrative Updates
The ACC Technical Workshop sessions also focused on some updates and best practices for submitting grants.
AIP Funding Considerations
AIP grant applications should emphasize safety, sustainability, and equity. When submitting AIP applications, airport sponsors should highlight how the proposed project will positively impact operational safety, the environment, and the community. Particular areas to address include how accessibility will be incorporated into terminal projects and how environmental justice will be addressed as part of an airport enhancement project.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding Considerations
When submitting grant applications for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding, projects should be ready for construction and applications should be submitted as early as possible. Starting in 2023, the FAA will begin considering some design projects, and as part of the consideration, they will request funding plans and various assurances that the project will be constructed. To maximize grant funding potential, the FAA is also developing guidance on how airports can combine multiple grants for one project.
Other Department of Transportation Funding Considerations
In addition to AIP and BIL funding, airport projects may be eligible for other grant opportunities. Some examples include Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants, which are meant to enhance and develop transportation opportunities across the United States, and Multimodal Project Discretionary Grants, which are funded by the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program to improve transportation barriers and enhance safe mobility. Notices of Funding Opportunities are also published by the Department of Transportation throughout the year, so monitor the website for new funding opportunities!
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