Make Your City’s Aviation Priorities Known


  • Brittney D. Kohler
September 9, 2022 - (4 min read)

Airports are part of America’s communities, and 19,400 public and private airports, heliports, and seaplane bases are tucked into our cities, towns and villages. That’s almost one airport for every city, town and village in the U.S. – but not all airports are built to serve the same purpose and not all benefit from federal funding equally. In fact, only 3,300 airports are eligible for federal Aviation Improvement Program (AIP) funds, the primary federal aid program for aviation. However, a vast majority are locally owned and operated by public entities, including local and regional governments, making aviation decisions made in Washington, D.C., essential to these communities.

While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package and COVID response packages recently boosted some specific airport funding, Congress is due to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs in the next legislative cycle. Here are three key ways to make your city’s aviation priorities known and prepare for emerging issues.

Share Your Aviation Priorities with Your Member of Congress and Senators.

Right now, Congress is welcoming submissions by their constituents and staking out the needs of their aviation communities, but the window for feedback in quickly closing. Ask if your airport has submitted priorities and reiterate them. Ensure that the priorities they included also feature community issues like aviation noise mitigation or economic development near airports that’s compatible to the neighborhoods. If they did not, take the opportunity to ensure that the Member of Congress’ DC legislative director or aviation staff lead also has those community aviation priorities or simply reiterate directly to them your support for your airport’s priorities. Consider including your local District staff on the communications as well. Plan to bring these issues with you to the NLC Congressional City Conference (March 26-28, 2023). If you need assistance in contacting your Members of Congress’ staff, email NLC’s Federal Advocacy team.

Attend NLC’s Upcoming Local Government Aviation Priorities Feedback Sessions.

NLC is hosting three upcoming fall aviation feedback sessions on September 16th, September 22nd, and October 4th. Join us and fellow local leaders to discuss local government aviation priorities for the upcoming 2023 Congressional reauthorization of the FAA programs and learn how your priorities fit into these programs. If your city has airport projects or issues, aviation noise challenges, interest in new advanced aviation like electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, or simply wants to ensure essential air service and development in your community, come and make your city’s priorities heard as NLC sets our course for local aviation priorities.

Discussion topics will include:

  • Airport Improvement and Development Projects
  • Airport Noise and Flight Patterns
  • Essential Air Service to Small Communities
  • Advanced Air Mobility (AAM or eVTOLs) and Uncrewed Ariel Systems (UAS or drones)
  • Safe implementation of AAM and UAS in communities
  • Law Enforcement Counter-UAS preparations and access
  • Your aviation issues and priorities!

Who Could Attend for Your Community:

  • Mayors and City Council
  • City Administrators
  • Airport Directors
  • City Staff such as Planning or Transportation Staff

Sign up here to attend any of these three sessions.

Have an Aviation Background or Want to Become More Engaged on Federal Aviation Issues? Join NLC’s Leadership Committee for Transportation & Infrastructure Services or our National Advisory Forum on Drones and Advanced Air Mobility.

NLC is pleased to welcome a new slate of elected leaders to our Transportation & Infrastructure Services Federal Advocacy Committee as we roll over calendar each year, and applications will open in October for 2023’s Committees. If you are a city leader but also served as an airport or transportation director, pilot, flight attendant, aviation planner, mechanic, engineer or noise expert, your insight can be particularly valuable to NLC as we shape our policy. However, passionate aviation enthusiasts and community noise advocates also have found joining our Committee is engaging and useful as so many aviation decisions are made in Washington, D.C. NLC is also pleased to be renewing our National Advisory Forum for drones and advanced air mobility which focuses on the emerging aviation options that could reshape and reinvest in both urban, suburban and rural airports. If your personal interests are in smart city operations or your city wants to embrace emerging technology, joining the Advisory Forum may be an opportunity for you to consider.

Americans want their local leaders making funding and operations decisions that affect their local airport and impact their community. NLC encourages your city to ensure that your priorities are heard in our nation’s Capitol and that your city’s leadership is represented as we set our course in 2022 and advocate before Congress in 2023.

About the Author

Brittney D. Kohler

About the Author

Brittney Kohler is the Legislative Director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the National League of Cities.