Last Thursday, U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Forward Looking Investment in General Aviation, Hangars, and Tarmacs (FLIGHT) Act of 2017 (S. 1320). The idea behind the FLIGHT Act is to give GA airports more flexibility in how they can use their infrastructure funding, though that’s not the only thing it brings to the table.
So what will it actually do if passed? First, the FLIGHT Act would give GA airports more time to save up FAA funding for projects. Instead of being able to roll over four years of annual entitlements, airports receiving funds under the Non-Primary Entitlement (NPE) program would be able to amass funding for an additional year, which might allow for larger, more expensive projects. In addition, the bill would let GA airports utilize the same expedited environmental review process currently used for projects at large, congested airports.
The FLIGHT Act also includes provisions for establishing public-private partnerships at GA airports, designates and provides funding access for disaster relief airports, and clarifies (legally speaking) that building a recreational aircraft at an airport qualifies as an aeronautical activity. Several GA organizations, including AOPA, have already voiced support for the FLIGHT Act.