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

June 2, 2022      By Rob Grotefend, GISP

Tags: Aviation

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 funding 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

The federal grant programs mentioned above are for FAA approved projects as defined by either AIP or PFC program guidance. This guidance does establish limitations on how the funding can be used for geospatial or GIS programs. Examples of elements that may not be funded with these funds 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 we understand some of the funding limitations, let’s focus on how federal grants can support aspects of your geospatial or GIS program. FAA funded development and planning projects enable data collection, survey and data attribution in compliance with FAA Advisory Circulars.

Planning projects should include an FAA-approved airport layout plan that reflects future conditions for the airport. The planning project may include a GIS compliant survey consistent with the FAA’s established surveying standards defined in FAA AC 150/5300-18B.

Data collection, survey and data attribution work associated with airport facility development including, airfield development and terminal development are supported by FAA when the project is part of an AIP or PFC funded development.

This work is typically completed during project formulation and project close-out.

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

Quality and accuracy are essential to any geospatial or GIS program, even if you are just getting started or if you’re maintaining your existing geospatial or GIS program.

Federally funded planning and development projects present airports with an opportunity to update data, improve data accuracy and amass more GIS data for all uses. Better data attribution can be particularly beneficial. Enhanced data attribution, for example, airfield lighting points should include lighting type and color allowing for easy incorporation into asset management systems. Below are additional examples of how your airport can improve its GIS with federal funding for your next planning or development project:

  • During an ALP or Master Plan update, collect all required data as described in FAA AC 150/5300-18B
    • Collect more than the minimum requirements
    • Acquire additional attribute data associated with each feature
  • During a taxiway reconstruction project, obtain 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

The following points are important to remember:

  • Ensure data collected is in the proper coordinate system and file format
  • Adhere to your airport’s GIS or CAD standards
  • If you have existing data in the project area, provide that data to the planning or design consultant 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. Our membership enables our staff to provide airports of all sizes with advice and consulting around the value-added benefits of Esri GIS solutions. RS&H associates 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. RS&H’s Geospatial Consultants help airports of all sizes find optimized GIS solutions. RS&H associates can help set up hardware and we can train 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.

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