Mims: Airports Have Rare Opportunity To Leap Forward

 - August 16, 2022, 10:51 AM

With unprecedented funding and a focus on infrastructure, the U.S. aviation community has a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to make airports the best they can be, according to FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed last year set aside $25 billion for airport infrastructure, terminals, and air traffic facilities, Mims noted at the recent Virginia Aviation Conference. Forty-six airports in Virginia alone collectively received nearly $77 million for infrastructure upgrades and Dulles and Richmond received nearly $51 million under the terminals program. These projects are providing more capacity, energy efficiency, and accessibility, he said.

Beyond airport grants, the FAA official also outlined some key activities at the agency, including studies at the National Airport Pavement and Materials Research Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on the use of polymers. These materials can make runways and taxiways more resilient and longer lasting, he said.

Research is also under way on landing areas, approach and departure paths, lighting, parking, charging stations, and noise requirements to pave the way for advanced air mobility infrastructure. “And they’re doing this work with urgency because the FAA is likely to certify several air taxis in the 2024 timeframe,” he said.

Other efforts include taking a holistic look at “smart airports” that use technology to manage and plan operations through a centralized digital environment.