Aviation and the Environment:

Federally Authorized Funding for Noise-Related Projects

RCED-00-285R: Published: Sep 27, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 2000.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) funding for noise-related projects, focusing on: (1) the total historical funding of noise-related projects through both the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) programs, by FAA region; and (2) comparing the amount of AIP funds set aside for noise-related projects in the AIP appropriation for fiscal year (FY) 2000 and the authorized amounts for the AIP for fiscal years 2001 through 2003 with the projected costs of noise-related projects planned in the current National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).

GAO noted that: (1) from FY 1982, the first year of funding under AIP, through FY 1999, AIP provided about $2.75 billion to airports for noise-related projects; (2) the airports in FAA's Western-Pacific Region collectively were awarded the second highest amount--$538 million, or nearly 20 percent--while the airports in FAA's Alaskan Region, which unlike other regions includes only one state, were awarded the lowest amount--$5 million, or 0.2 percent; (3) for FY 1992, when FAA began approving PFC collections, through 1999, FAA approved about $1.64 billion in PFC collections for noise-related projects; (4) in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century, Congress set aside 34 percent of the AIP discretionary funds specifically for noise-related projects; (5) under that formula, AIP provided about $207 million in FY 2000 appropriations, and--based on authorizations--could provide about $327 million in FY 2001, $344 million in FY 2002, and $361 million in FY 2003 for noise-related projects; (6) GAO compared appropriations for FY 2000 and authorizations for fiscal years 2001 through 2003 with the projected costs of noise-related projects in the current 5-year NPIAS; (7) the projected costs were based on FAA's estimates of the year the project would receive AIP funding and the expected start date of the projects; (8) GAO found that the projected costs of planned projects exceeded the available AIP noise set-aside funds for FY 2000 by nearly $143 million, but it is unknown how these amounts compare for fiscal years 2001 through 2003; (9) because FAA does not track historically what happens to unfunded projects, FAA was not able to provide data on how unfunded planned projects had been handled in the past; (10) however, according to FAA officials, projects scheduled for funding in one year that remain unfunded at the end of that fiscal year will be scheduled for funding in the following year; and (11) whether an overall surplus or shortage actually occurs will depend on the amount appropriated for AIP, the costs and timing of rescheduled projects, and the extent to which any new projects are added to the NPIAS.