FAA Awards $766 million to Build Safer, More Sustainable Airports

Projects include zero-emissions vehicles and making terminals more accessible to people with disabilities.

The FAA has awarded more than $766 million in grants aimed at building safer, more sustainable, and more accessible airports across the United States.

The funding, the fifth round of FY 2021 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, will pay for projects at 279 airports in 44 states, as well as projects in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The AIP provides grants to public agencies—and, in some cases, to private owners and entities—for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. It receives approximately $3.2 billion in funding each year, and this year, the FAA plans to award more than 1,800 grants.

In some cases, projects are required to provide a local match of more than 10 percent. Under this round of funding, a local match will not have to be paid.

Key Airport Projects

The funding will be used for projects that range from improving runways to making terminals more accessible to passengers with disabilities at airports supporting general aviation operations across the country.

Those include:

Adirondack Regional Airport in Saranac Lake, New York, which will receive $2.8 million to rehabilitate 6,573 feet of existing runway pavement. The project will install three new pavement condition sensors to help the airport determine when it needs to remove snow and ice, and to help with accurately reporting pavement conditions.

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in Louisville, Kentucky, which will receive $10.6 million to install a geothermal system in the terminal building to make the airport more energy efficienct. The airport will heat and cool the 400,000-sq-ft terminal building with the new geothermal system, which will replace three existing boilers. The geothermal system will significantly reduce pollutants, such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter associated with the burning of natural gas.

Atqasuk Edward Burnell Sr. Memorial Airport in Atqasuk, Alaska, which will receive $20.7 million to repair Runway 6/24′s gravel pavement, the aircraft parking area, and the taxiway to the parking area, among other improvements. The project enhances the safety of airport operations and extends the life of the airport infrastructure. Atqasuk, a remote community in northern Alaska, is solely dependent on GA for the transportation of people, goods, and critical services.

Fort Wayne International Airport in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which will receive $6.1 million to expand the terminal building and improve the existing ticketing area and passenger gates to increase passenger capacity. The terminal expansion will provide a service-animal relief area, lactation rooms, and a children’s play area. Some of the money will be spent on technology called a hearing loop, which allows people with compatible/enabled hearing aid devices to hear the gate announcements in their hearing aids. This will help the airport meet ADA requirements.

Greener Airports

As part of the funding, $20.4 million has been allocated to reduce emissions and improve air quality at those airports serving major airlines across the country, including $5.9 million to purchase zero-emission vehicles like electric shuttle buses. Another $14.5 million will be used to lower airport and ramp equipment emissions. Several grants will electrify portable cooling units that provide air conditioning while aircraft are parked at the gate.

Among the airports receiving funds:

Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, which will get $3.9 million to purchase five 35-foot electric shuttle buses

San Diego International Airport in San Diego, California, which has been awarded $3.9 million for 39 dual-port charging stations for electric ground-support equipment that service aircraft between flights.

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, which will get $1 million to buy two pre-conditioned air units that provide temperature-controlled air inside an aircraft when the aircraft’s own air conditioning system is off when the aircraft engines aren’t running.

“Transportation might be the biggest emitter of CO2, but that means we have the opportunity to be a big part of the solution,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. “These grants put us on the right path to build a more sustainable aviation system.”

The White House and multiple federal agencies, including the Energy Department, Agriculture Department, the FAA and NASA, plan to hold a virtual roundtable with public and private sector leaders on the path to decarbonizing the aviation sector. A date has not been announced.

To view an interactive map of all the projects, click here.


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