Hoeven: Congress Passes Legislation to Help Ensure Airport Space Remains Available for National Guard RPA Missions

Bill Corrects Issue in AIP Grants, Preserves Funding for Airports like Fargo

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Air Force Caucus, today announced that Congress has passed legislation to allow Air Force and Air National Guard units to continue to lease space at airports, even if those units are only using the facilities to operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

The legislation fixes a current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant requirement that says airport owners or operators can only be eligible for airport improvement grants if they have a covered lease with a National Guard or Air Force unit carrying out traditional aeronautical missions. This bill prevents the loss of federal funding for Hector International Airport in Fargo, which currently hosts RPA missions for the North Dakota National Guard.

“Currently, if you’re an airport operator leasing to an Air Force or National Guard unit that is only using your facility to operate RPAs, then you are in violation of FAA grant requirements,” Hoeven said. “This legislation allows airport operators to maintain these leases and still be eligible for airport improvement grants. This is good news for airports as well as the National Guard and Air Force, because it helps ensure airports are available for continued RPA operation without unfairly hurting airport operators.”

The bill, H.R. 5944, was cosponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and is awaiting the President’s signature for approval. In February, Hoeven cosponsored legislation in the Senate similar to H.R. 5944.