The Sponsor is responsible for accomplishing project engineering and design for all development projects funded under the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The sponsor must use qualified technical resources to complete project design and to prepare a bid package that complies with AIP requirements as well as Federal, State and local regulations. The project design must incorporate sound engineering principals as well as comply with applicable AIP design and construction standards.
Reviews conducted by the FAA project manager are primarily for the benefit of the FAA. The purpose of the FAA's review is to verify conformance with applicable FAA design and safety standards as well as to make a determination regarding the limits of AIP eligibility. The FAA review is generally limited to critical project elements such as the safety plan, pavement details, airfield marking details and airfield signage details. The FAA will not typically review detailed design and quantity calculations, however such documentation must be made available if so requested by the FAA project manager. Any review by the FAA must not be construed as a quality control check for the Sponsor or their consultant.
The FAA project manager cannot substitute their judgement for that of the Sponsor. This does not mean that AIP will participate in any decision the Sponsor makes as it pertains to design choices. AIP will only participate in costs associated with development that meets the minimum FAA standards. The Sponsor may make improvements that exceed the FAA standard, however the Sponsor would bear the responsibility for any additional costs.
We strongly encourage sponsors and their engineer consult with the FAA project manager prior to commencement of any project design. This coordination will assist the Sponsor with establishing the limits of AIP eligibility and thus hopefully avoid incurring costs associated with misdirected work effort the FAA subsequently disallows. The Sponsor should plan for sufficient time that allows the FAA project manager to conduct an appropriate review. This will vary per size and type of project.
FAA Reimbursable Agreements
The one exception to the policy that the Sponsor remains responsible for project engineering and design is when an AIP project requires relocation of a FAA owned facility. While the Sponsor remains financially responsible for such costs, the Engineering Services division of the FAA Air Traffic Organization has the option to accomplish such services in-house or they may elect to permit the Sponsor's engineer perform the necessary design services. In either case, the Sponsor must enter into a reimbursable agreement with the FAA prior to commencing any design work. Establishment of such agreements require advance coordination and preliminary investigation. Sponsors that require a reimbursable agreement should generally start the coordination process 12 months prior to the needed services.
By accepting an AIP grant, the sponsor agrees to adhere to FAA standards of various applicable Advisory Circulars (ACs). A listing of the applicable Advisory Circulars is attached to each grant agreement. Unless specifically approved in writing by the FAA , the Sponsor must apply all applicable FAA standards to the project design without modification. Unless explicitly approved by the FAA, non-standard design elements are ineligible for AIP participation.
Since the AIP statute bases eligibility upon adherence to FAA approved standards, Sponsors desiring to use construction standards for which no AIP standards exist must still seek FAA approval for use if AIP participation is desired. Use of non-standard construction specification requires a justification for acceptable level of performance and safety.
Timing of Submittal
Construction Safety and Phasing Plan
The Construction Safety and Phasing Plans (CSPPs) serves as a comprehensive safety management strategy for the proposed project. The CSPP is more than just a document that establishes contractor requirements. It is a record that addresses all aspects of operational safety for the project including Sponsor responsibilities and FAA coordination. Operational safety considerations are critical towards mitigating risk to the airfield environment caused by temporary construction. As such, early coordination and development of the CSPP is a high value action that aids with limiting risk from reaching the airport environment. Given this high value benefit, the development of a CSPP should occur early in the project design design phase as opposed to later in the design phase. The point at which a CSPP is 90% complete is not the same as the point the P&S are 90% complete. Once the principal elements of the CSPP are established (i.e. phasing, sequencing, work boundaries etc), the Sponsor should submit the CSPP to the FAA for review and internal coordination. This allows sufficient time to identify any potential adverse aeronautical effect and permits the incorporation of appropriate mitigating measures. This should generally occur 4 to 6 months prior to bid solicitation depending on the scale of the project.
Plans and Specifications (P&S)
Generally, we request a review time of 2-3 weeks. Seasonality will impact the amount of time the FAA may need to conduct the reviews. In order to limit delays, we request Sponsor with moderate to larger scale projects submit their plans and specification at least 3-4 months ahead of the scheduled bidding. Approval of a Sponsors plans and specification is primarily based upon the submittal of a satisfactory executed sponsor certification. However, acceptance of the Sponsor's certification does not preclude the FAA Project Manager from conducting a review of the P&S. Typically, projects managers within the Central region will conduct a cursory review to determinate conformance with design standards, AIP eligibility and the statements contained in the Sponsor certification. Sponsors must not construe the FAA review as a quality control review step. Any review and approval by the FAA does not relieve the Sponsor or the engineer of the responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, and technical content of the plans and specifications.