Project Streamlining______________________

Author: Brad Van Dam, (703) 824-0504

 

What's at Issue?

Before the terrorist attacks on September 11, the biggest issue facing the aviation industry was a combination of diminishing capacity and increasing number of flight delays and cancellations.† Between 1990 and 2000, the number of passengers using our aviation system increased by more than 200 million.† Despite the dramatic increase in passengers, the construction of new runways was not been keeping pace with increased demand.

 

Like the number of passengers, flight delays and cancellations were also on the rise.† Flight delays increased 58 percent between 1995 and 1999, and flight cancellations increased 68 percent during the same five-year period.† The year 2000 was even worse.† The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that one in four flights were delayed, cancelled or diverted last year affecting approximately 163 million passengers.††

 

The fact that it often takes 10 to 15 years to review, approve and build new runways and other capacity enhancement projects at congested airports has contributed to the capacity problem.† In early 2001, AAAE and ACI-NA responded by developing the Expedited Airport System Enhancement (EASE) Ė an initiative to expedite the review and approval process for projects that would enhance capacity and reduce delays at the nationís busiest airports.†

 

Status

Although Congress failed to send a project streamlining bill to the president's desk during the 107th Congress, AAAE and ACI-NA have made significant progress since they unveiled their EASE initiative two years ago.† The Associations are pressing House and Senate members to reintroduce the project streamlining bills that were gaining momentum during the last two years.†

 

Since the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) expires on September 30, 2003, Congress is beginning to consider another FAA reauthorization.† That legislation could serve as a convenient vehicle for our streamlining proposals.† It is never easy to predict the future, but we are cautiously optimistic that lawmakers will finally pass legislation in the 108th Congress to reduce the time it takes airports to construct runways and other airport capacity projects.†

 

AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Actions

In March 2001, AAAE and ACI-NA unveiled the Expedited Airport System Enhancement (EASE) -- a proposal to expedite the review and approval process for projects that would enhance capacity and reduce delays at the nationís busiest airports.† The two airport associations found a receptive audience on Capitol Hill where lawmakers were becoming increasingly frustrated with the rapid rise in flight delays and cancellations.†

 

The push for project streamlining was gaining momentum when the Senate Commerce Committee approved S. 633, the Aviation Delay Prevention n August, 2001.† The bill included several EASE-like provisions.† All that progress came to a halt a month later when terrorists hijacked four commercial aircraft and crashed two into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon.† Airline passenger traffic declined precipitously, and Congress laid capacity issues aside to focus on aviation security.†

 

In 2002, Congressional committees with jurisdiction on aviation issues were largely preoccupied with the creation of the Transportation Security Administration and trying to determine whether it would meet the stringent deadlines included in the aviation security bill that Congress passed the previous year.† In July, however, the House of Representatives approved its own bill, H.R. 4481, the Airport Streamlining Approval Process Act, to expedite the time it takes to review and approve capacity projects at the most congested airports.† Like the Senate bill, it too included several EASE-like provisions.†

 

We were hopeful that the House action would spark the Senate to pass the project streamlining bill previously approved by the Commerce Committee.† However, lawmakers struggled to approve the13 must-pass appropriations bills, homeland security legislation and a resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.† Lawmakers returned for a lame-duck session, but the Senate did not approve a project streamlining legislation before the 107th Congress adjourned in late November.

 

The following includes comparison of the major provisions in EASE, H.R. 4481, the Airport Streamlining Approval Process Act, and S. 633, the Aviation Delay Prevention in August, 2001:†

 

†††††††††††††† EASE†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† H.R. 4481†††††††††††††††††††††††††† S. 633

Coordinated Review:† Creates a Capacity Council

or Czar appointed by and reporting to the President to coordinate federal review

of critical national airport capacity enhancement projects.† Requires that FAA and all other Federal agencies conduct reviews of critical national airport capacity projects on a "highest priority basis."†

Requires DOT to develop and implement a coordinated review process for airport

capacity projects at congested airports.† That coordinated review would include all environmental reviews, analyses, opinions, permits, licenses and approvals that must be issued by a Federal agency or airport sponsor.†

Requires DOT to implement an expedited coordinated environmental review process for national capacity projects that provides for better coordination among Federal, regional, state, and local agencies.†

Eligible Projects:† Requires the FAA to establish a threshold of total annual hours of delay at the most delay-prone airports.† Upon application by the sponsor of an airport having greater than the threshold amount of delay, the Administrator shall designate that project as a† "critical national airport capacity project."

Defines "congested airport" as an airport that accounted for at least 1% of all delayed aircraft operations in the U.S. and the top 31 airports listed in FAA's 2001 capacity benchmark report.†

DOT may designate an airport development project at one of the top 31 airports listed in the FAA's 2001 capacity benchmark report as a "national capacity project" if the Secretary determines that the project will significantly enhance the capacity of the national air transportation system.

Not included.†

 

Not Included.†

Airport Penalties:† Requires top 31 airports not engaged in a runway expansion process to establish delay reduction task forces to study ways to increase capacity.† Requires DOT and airports to complete planning and environmental review process within 5 years if a task force recommends construction of new runway.† Airports that do not initiate planning and environmental review would be ineligible for AIP funds or new PFCs.†

Alternatives Analysis:† Eliminates off-airport alternatives analysis at a small number of airports where delays have serious impacts on the national air transportation system.

 

Requires DOT to determine the reasonable alternatives for a capacity enhancement project at a congested airport and requires other federal or state agencies to consider only those alternatives.†

Requires DOT to determine the reasonable alternatives for a capacity enhancement project at a congested airport and requires other federal or state agencies to consider only those alternatives.

Project Specific Staff and† Consultants:† Allows airports to provide funds to FAA to hire additional, project-specific staff and consultants for expedited review of critical airport capacity projects.†

Includes similar provision.

Includes similar provision in a 5-year pilot program.†

Categorical Exclusions:† Calls for expanded definition and use of categorical exclusions.†

Includes similar provision.

Includes similar provision.

Revenue Diversion:† Allows congested airports to use limited revenues generated at the airport to mitigate the environmental impacts of capacity enhancement projects.†

Includes similar provision.†

Not included.

Not included.†

Judicial Review:† Calls for a more reasonable judicial review of capacity enhancement projects by stating that the action of DOT or any other federal agency shall be subject to judicial review only in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Not included.

State Implementation Plan:† Requires states to revise State Implementation Plans to realistically anticipate reasonable growth at airports with critical capacity enhancement projects.

Not included.

Not included.

Governor's Certificate:† Eliminates duplicative Governor's Certificate.

Includes similar provision.

Includes similar provision.†

 

 

Related Links

The following includes some of the letters that ACI-NA and AAAE have sent to Congress and some of the statements the two associations have submitted to various committees regarding project streamlining:†

 

On March 6, 2003, ACI-NA President David Plavin and AAAE President Chip Barclay urged the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to pass project streamlining provisions as part of a free-standing bill or as part of the next FAA reauthorization bill.† A copy of the testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/030303faareauth.pdf.

 

On February 25, 2003, Plavin also urged the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation to pass project streamlining provisions as part of a free-standing bill or as part of the next FAA reauthorization.† A copy of the testimony may be viewed at:† http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/022103faareauth.pdf. †

 

On December 18, 2002, Plavin and Barclay sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members outlining their priorities for the FY03 DOT Appropriations bill.† A copy of the letter may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/1217PrioritiesLetter.pdf

 

In March 2002, Plavin and Barclay urged the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation outlining their priorities for the FY03 DOT Appropriations.† A copy of their testimony may be viewed at:† http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/AppropsFY2003.pdf.

 

The letter that Plavin and Barclay sent to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members on October 16, 2001, outlining their priorities for FY02 DOT Appropriations bill may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/2002Conferees.pdf.

 

On August 2, 2001, Barclay testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on airline delays and capacity.† A copy of his testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/barclay802.pdf.

 

On July 31, 2001, Todd Hauptli testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs on airline customer problems and proposed solutions.† A copy of his testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/hauptli731.pdf.

 

The letter that Plavin and Barclay sent to Senate Appropriations Committee members on July 11, 2001, regarding their priorities for the FY02 DOT Appropriations bill may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/letters/senateapprops.pdf

 

On May 24, 2001, Todd Hauptli testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on airport runway challenges.† A copy of his testimony may be viewed at:† http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/hauptli524.pdf.

 

On April 25, 2001, Plavin and Barclay testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on capacity benchmarks.† A copy of their testimony may be viewed at:† http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/plavin425.pdf.

 

On March 29, 2001, Barclay testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation on the Aviation Delay Prevention Act.† A copy of his testimony may be viewed at: http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/barclay2.pdf.

 

On March 15, 2001, Barclay testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on airline delays and capacity.† A copy of his testimony may be viewed at:† http://airportnet.org/depts/federal/testimony/barclay.pdf.

 

So far this year, the AAAE/ACI-NA Legislative Affairs Department has issued the following Airport Alerts and Hearing Reports regarding project streamlining:†

 

†††† Volume 4, Number 10 - March 6, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

†††† Volume 9, Number 17 - March 5, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Hearing

 

†††† Volume 4, Number 9 - February 25, 2003, FAA Reauthorization Bill

 

†††† Volume 9, Number 15 - February 24, 2003, President Signs Omnibus Spending Bill †††† into Law

 

†††† Volume 9, Number 11 - February 13, 2003, Airports Win Big in Omnibus

 

†††† Volume 4, Number 7 - February 13, 2003, Reauthorization Bill

 

†††† Volume 9, Number 5 - January 24, 2003, Senate Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill †††† for FY 2003