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Understanding Federal Funding for Your Airport’s Geospatial or GIS Program

By Rob Grotefend, GISP

June 2, 2022

airport geographic information system

With the many different federal grant funding opportunities for airports, you may be wondering how you can use this funding to either implement a new program or improve an existing geospatial or geographic information systems (GIS) program.

Federal Funding Programs Available for Airports Geospatial or GIS Program

Before we dive into the different ways to use the funding for your geospatial or GIS program, let’s first look into what types of federal grants are available for your airport.

Airport Improvement Program (AIP) includes entitlements based on passenger boardings and cargo weight as well as discretionary funding based on unallocated entitlements and distributed according to a national prioritization formula.
Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) Program allows commercial service airports to gain additional funding based on fees received from passengers departing their airport.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act increased the federal share for AIP to 100 percent.

These three programs were followed by the most recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) which includes funding through Airport Infrastructure Grants (AIG) and the Airport Terminal Program (ATP).

Limits on Federal Funding for Geospatial or GIS programs

It is important to understand that all the federal grant programs mentioned above are tied directly to FAA approved projects as defined by either AIP or PFC program guidance. With that, there are only certain ways that grant funding is applicable to geospatial or GIS programs. There are many things related to GIS programs that are not authorized for federal funding under these grant programs. Some of these items include:

• GIS employee salaries
• software licensing and purchases
• software maintenance
• computer hardware such as servers
• field collection equipment
• GIS application development

How Federal Funding Applies to Geospatial or GIS programs

Now that you understand what is not authorized, let’s focus on how federal grants can help fund aspects of your geospatial or GIS program.
The primary focus of what can be funded for FAA funded development and planning projects is related to data collection, survey and data attribution in compliance with FAA Advisory Circulars.

With planning projects, it is expected to result in an FAA-approved airport layout plan that reflects future conditions for the entire airport, the project may include Airports GIS-compliant surveying for the entire airport consistent with the FAA’s established surveying standards for Airports GIS defined in FAA AC 150/5300-18B.

With development projects such as runway reconstruction or a new terminal design effort; data collection, survey and data attribution are limited to efforts directly required by the AIP or PFC funded development project. These efforts are typically captured during project formulation and project close-out.

How Data Collection, Survey and Attributed Data Helps Your Geospatial or GIS program

Whether you are just getting started or maintaining your existing geospatial or GIS program, having high-quality, accurate data is important. Through airport planning and development projects, you can continually ensure that your data is accurate to include current, associated attributes as required by the FAA. Having properly attributed data (for example, airfield lighting points should include lighting type and color) will allow for incorporation into asset management systems.

Below are some examples of how you might use this on your next project:

• During an ALP or Master Plan update you can collect all required data as described in FAA AC 150/5300-18B. Don’t only collect minimum requirements and don’t forget the attribute data associated with each feature.
• During a taxiway reconstruction, you should ensure you get pre-construction survey data and post-construction as-built survey and design data in a GIS format with appropriate attribute data.
• During a terminal renovation, an existing conditions survey may include an inventory of assets that can be collected using GIS software or even a 3D LIDAR survey to map the location of all objects.

Additionally, below are a few important things to remember:

• Ensure data collected is in the proper coordinate system and file format.
• If your airport has GIS or CAD standards, make sure that they are adhered to.
• If you have existing data in the project area, provide that to the planning or design firm to ensure that it is updated based on future, as-built conditions.

Get the Help You Need

RS&H is a member of the Esri Partner Network, enabling our staff to provide airports of all sizes with advice and consulting around the value-added benefits of GIS and Esri solutions. RS&H staff help airports begin the process of using a GIS to streamline processes and manage everyday facility maintenance and data management tasks in an affordable and approachable manner.

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No airport is too small to see the value of implementing a GIS, if it’s done right. RS&H’s GIS consultants help airports find the optimal solution including setting up the necessary hardware and training existing operations, maintenance, and management staff on the use of online and mobile tools to immediately realize the value of GIS.

If you want to learn more about how GIS can provide value for your airport, RS&H’s consulting team is ready to help identify the best solution to suit your operational needs and your budget.

Please provide your name in the contact form below, and Rob Grotefend, GISP will reach out to discuss your optimal GIS solution.


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Topics: Aviation, Airport, FAA, GIS

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About the Author

Rob Grotefend, GISP, is an expert in pavement data collection using the latest GIS and GPS technologies, which results in a superior PMS delivery method. His roles have included Lead Planner, Airfield Planner, Project Manager, Pavement Management Data Collection and Integration Task Leader, and Airfield Operations Supervisor at a variety of civilian airports and military airfields. He can be reached at rob.grotefend@rsandh.com.

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