AIP Handbook: Chapter 1

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Chapter 1. What do I need to know about this order?


1-1. This Order Is Called the Handbook.

Throughout this document, we refer to this order (FAA Order 5300-38D, Change 1, Airport Improvement Program Handbook) as the Handbook.

1-2. Purpose of the Handbook.

This Handbook provides guidance and sets forth policies and procedures for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

1-3. Handbook Audience.

All FAA organizations that work with the Airport Improvement Program will use this Handbook, in particular, the FAA Office of Airports (ARP) headquarters and field offices. This Handbook will also be publicly available to airports, consultants, state agencies and others associated with the Airport Improvement Program.

1-4. Handbook Location on the Internet.

You can find this Handbook on the FAA Office of Airports website (see Appendix B for link).

1-5. Publications this Handbook Cancels.

  • a. FAA Order 5100.38C, AIP Handbook, dated June 28, 2005.
  • b. FAA Order 5100.20C, Programming Control and Reporting Procedures Grant-In-Aid Program, dated December 7, 1999.

1-6. Relevant AIP Legislation (Referred to as the Act).

The contents of this Handbook are based on the AIP related legislation contained in the United States Code (USC). Throughout this Handbook, the AIP related legislation under Title 49 is referred to as the Act. This legislation is shown in Table 1-1. Previously, AIP was authorized by the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 (Public Law 97-248), which Congress repealed in 1994 and recodified as Title 49 § 47101, et seq. (Public Law 103-272).

14 CFR part 151 (Federal Aid to Airports) and 14 CFR part 152 (Airport Aid Program) were regulations for previous programs that existed prior to AIP and do not apply to AIP.

Table 1-1 AIP Related Legislation
The USC contains… Which contains… Which contains… Which contains… That Authorizes… Under Sections (§)…
Title 49 (Transportation) Subtitle VII (Aviation Programs) Part B (Airport Development and Noise) Chapter 471 (Airport Development) The Airport Improvement Program 49 USC § 47101 through 49 USC § 47175 Most, but not all, sections within this range apply.
Title 49 (Transportation) Subtitle VII (Aviation Programs) Part B (Airport Development and Noise) Chapter 475 (Noise) Noise compatibility planning and projects 49 USC § 47501 through 49 USC § 47507 Most, but not all, sections within this range apply.
Title 49 (Transportation) Subtitle VII (Aviation Programs) Part C (Financing) Chapter 481 (Airport and Airway Trust Fund Authorizations). The FAA to have contract authority to issue grants 49 USC § 48103
Title 49 (Transportation) Subtitle VII (Aviation Programs) Part A (Air Commerce and Satety) Chapter 445 (Facilities, Personnel, and Research) The FAA to install an instrument landing system with AIP funds that can be turned over to the FAA for operation and maintenance 49 USC § 44502(e)

1-7. AIP Transition to 2 CFR 200.

2 CFR part 200 became effective for AIP on December 19, 2014. This version of the Handbook contains the correct 2 CFR part 200 references and text. 2 CFR part 200 includes the requirements formerly contained in OMB Circular A-102 (administrative); OMB Circular A-87 (cost principles); and OMB Circulars A-89 and A-133 (audit requirements) for Federal awards. Available crosswalks between 2 CFR part 200 and these OMB circulars are listed in Table 1-2 (see Appendix B for link to the website containing these crosswalks). 2 CFR part 200 also includes the requirements formerly contained in 49 CFR § 18.36.

There are some differences between 2 CFR part 200 and AIP policy. On occasion, the AIP statute contains certain requirements (or lack thereof) which do not permit application of a part of 2 CFR part 200. Wherever this occurs, it will be noted in this Handbook. Some of the differences occur where 2 CFR part 200 is addressing grant program administration. These differences are due principally because of the types of grant programs that are covered by 2 CFR part 200. Examples are included in Table 1-3. Some of the differences between AIP policy and 2 CFR part 200 are listed in Table 1-4.

Table 1-2 Crosswalk between 2 CFR part 200 and Previous OMB Circulars (see Appendix B for link to the website containing these crosswalks)


The following crosswalk… Addresses the following AIP related policy…
a. Uniform Guidance Crosswalk from Predominant Source in Existing Guidance Predominant Source in Existing Guidance Summary crosswalk for all OMB circulars (including A-89 which does not have detailed crosswalks)
b. Uniform Guidance Crosswalk to Predominant Source in Existing Guidance Summary crosswalk for all OMB circulars in reverse order from above (including A-89 which does not have detailed crosswalks)
c. Uniform Guidance Cost Principles Text Comparison Includes a detailed crosswalk for OMB Circular A-87
d. Uniform Guidance Audit Requirements Text Comparison Includes a detailed crosswalk for OMB Circular A-133
e. Uniform Guidance Administrative Requirements Text Comparison Includes a detailed crosswalk for OMB Circular A-102
Table 1-3 Examples of Differences Where 2 CFR part 200 is Addressing Grant Program Administration
Examples include…
a. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issues grants for a state’s grant programs. The state Departments of Transportation then issue subgrants and administer the FHWA grant funding (this is similar to the FAA AIP Block Grant Program).
b. AIP is a project grant program. AIP grants are written for a specific grant project. AIP grants do not allow a sponsor to use AIP to fund administration of the grant program, or to pay for sponsor overhead costs that are not specifically and directly related to a grant.
Table 1-4 Differences Between AIP Policy and 2 CFR part 200
AIP Policy (which governs) 2 CFR part 200 AIP Policy
Costs to recover improper payments are not allowable. 2 CFR § 200.428 considers costs incurred recovering improper payments to be allowable costs. Costs to recover improper payments are part of grant program administration. AIP does not fund program administration. However, some Federal grant programs are allowed to use grant funds for administration. These agencies do not have any other source of local funds, and must use grant funds to recover improper payments. 49 USC § 47110(b)(1) indicates all costs paid with AIP funds must be necessary to carry out the project. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to recover improper payments without using AIP funding to carry out the work effort

1-8. Format for References to the Act.

Specific references to sections (§) of the Act are provided in the form of 49 USC § XXXXX. It is useful to note that the first three numbers in the section reference are always the chapter number.

1-9. Broad Objective of the Act.

The Act’s broad objective is to help in developing a nationwide system of public-use airports that meets the current needs and the projected growth of civil aviation.

1-10. The Act Is a Permissive Statute.

The key nature of the Act is that it is a permissive statute, rather than a mandatory or prohibitory one. Put more simply, if the AIP statute does not provide the authority to fund an action or an item, that action or item cannot be funded under AIP.

A permissive statute does not contain a comprehensive list of mandatory or prohibited actions. Rather, a permissive statute gives permission to do certain things. As such, an airport is not required to construct some or all of the items that are allowed under AIP, but may do so provided that the FAA determines that the items are justified at that airport.

This is not a concept exclusive to AIP. This is a rule that stems from federal appropriations law, which applies to federal agencies. The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, Third Edition (commonly referred to as the Red Book) states that “A federal agency is a creature of law and can function only to the extent authorized by law” Atlantic City Electric Co. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 295 F.3d 1, (D.C. Cir. 2002). The Supreme Court (United States v. MacCollom, 426 U.S. 317, 321 (1976)) has upheld this notion by stating “[T]he established rule is that the expenditure of public funds is proper only when authorized by Congress, not that public funds may be expended unless prohibited by Congress.”

1-11. Aviation Priorities in the Act.

49 USC § 47101 lists the policy directives and aviation priorities of the United States. These priorities include:

a. Providing a safe and secure airport and airway system.

b. Minimizing airport noise impacts on nearby communities.

c. Developing reliever airports, cargo hub airports, and intermodalism.

d. Protecting natural resources.

e. Reducing aircraft delays.

f. Converting former military air bases to civil use or improving joint-use airports.

g. Carrying out various other projects to ensure a safe and efficient airport system.

1-12. List of Handbook References (with Links to the Associated Websites).

Appendix B contains a list of the documents referenced in this Handbook. Links for these references are also provided in the Appendix B (they are not given again in the Handbook) and were current on the Handbook publication date. Each reference is also followed by a brief summary of what the document contains and how it relates to AIP. The versions of these reference documents are not given. The reader should use the current version of the document.

1-13. General Principles of this Handbook.

The contents of this Handbook are based on principles below:

a. The Use of the AIP Handbook is Mandatory. The Handbook is the published policy for AIP. Except where options are specifically noted or where non-mandatory language is used, the procedures and requirements are mandatory. Any deviation from the procedures or requirements must be approved by the Director of the Office of Airport Planning and Programming. All requests for deviations must be sent to the Director of the Office of Airport Planning and Programming for processing.

b. Use of the Term FAA Policy. The term FAA policy denotes policy that the FAA Office of Airports has established for AIP where there is not a direct statutory reference in the Act.

c. Regional Office Discretion. Unless set procedures are necessary to achieve national standardization in grant program administration, regional offices may adjust procedures that are not dictated by legislation, rule, this Handbook, other published federal policy, or reasons beyond the FAA’s control.

d. Reference to Other Guidance. The Handbook summarizes pertinent information from other guidance material when appropriate to relieve users from needing to reference another document. The source documents, rather than this Handbook, are the authoritative technical sources; however, this Handbook is the authoritative source on AIP, including eligibility.

1-14. Warning on Taking Handbook Text Out of Context.

There may be paragraphs in this Handbook that appear to conflict with the general requirements for eligibility, justification, or program administration. This is usually due to legislative exceptions for a specific project or location. These exceptions do not amend, change, or modify the general guidance and requirements. These exceptions do not apply to other situations and must not be taken out of context.

1-15. Use of the Term Airports District Office (ADO).

For the purposes of this Handbook, we are using ADO to reference the FAA Office of Airports office that directly works with the sponsor. In regional offices that do not have ADOs, the use of the term ADO refers to the FAA Office of Airports branch within the regional office that deals directly with the sponsors.

1-16. Use of the Phrase ADO has the option.

For the purposes of this Handbook, the phrase, the ADO has the option indicates situations where there is a choice to be made and that the ADO will make the choice.

1-17. FAA Office of Airports Positions/Divisions/Branches Referenced in this Handbook.

A list of the key positions within the FAA Office of Airports is contained in Table 1-5 and a list of the divisions and branches within the FAA Office of Airports is contained in Table 1-6. The routing codes for many of these positions, divisions, and branches are used throughout this Handbook.

Table 1-5 FAA Office of Airports Key Positions
Routing Code Position Name
ARP-1 Associate Administrator
AAS-1 Director, Airport Safety and Standards
APP-1 Director, Airport Planning and Programming
ACO-1 Director, Airport Compliance and Management Analysis
AXX-600 Regional Division Manager (AXX meaning the regional designation of AAL, AEA, ACE, AGL, ANE, ANM, ASO, ASW, or AWP)
Table 1-6 FAA Office of Airports Divisions and Branches
Routing Code Organization Name
AAS-100 Airport Engineering Division
AAS-300 Airports Safety and Operations Division
ACO-100 Airport Compliance Division
APP-400 Airport Planning and Environmental Division
APP -500 Airports Financial Assistance Division
APP-510 Financial Analysis and Passenger Facility Charge Branch
APP-520 Airport Improvement Program Branch

1-18. Location of Handbook Definitions.

Definitions are an important part of this Handbook. As with any large program, there are many words and phrases that have specific, defined meanings within the program. Appendix A contains the definitions of terms used in this Handbook.

1-19. Process for Handbook Changes.

APP-500 will continue to issue program guidance letters (PGLs) for short-term policy guidance between Handbook changes. In addition, APP-500 has the option to issue official numbered changes to the Handbook. The ADOs have the option to forward these PGLs to block grant state sponsors or others impacted by the PGLs.

1-20. Supplemental Guidance and Standard Operating Procedures.

The FAA Office of Airports has the option of issuing additional guidance, such as FAA Office of Airports Standard Operating Procedures (see Appendix B for link) as well as other formats, to supplement this Handbook. The ADOs have the option to forward the additional guidance to block grant state sponsors or others impacted by the guidance.

1-21. New Handbook Layout and Format.

The format of this version of the Handbook is significantly altered from the FAA Order 5100.38C, AIP Handbook.

a. Chapters. The chapters are reduced and are organized in question format as shown in Table 1-7. This allows the reader to more easily identify the chapter they need to reference.

b. Appendices. Detailed information and long lists were moved to the appendices to simplify the main body of the Handbook. For instance, while Chapter 3 provides the general requirements that each project must meet in order to be considered for AIP funding, the project specific requirements have been split out into appendices and are in tabular format for easier reference. Where a paragraph from an appendix is referenced, the reference will be in the form, Paragraph X-##. A list of the appendices is provided in Table 1-8.

Table 1-7 Handbook Chapters
Chapters in this handbook include…
Chapter 1. What do I need to know about this order?
Chapter 2. Who can get a grant?
Chapter 3. What projects can be funded?
Chapter 4. What AIP funding is available?
Chapter 5. How does the grant process work?
Chapter 6. What special AIP programs are available?
Table 1-8 Handbook Appendices
Appendices in this handbook include…
Appendix A. Definitions of Terms Used in this Handbook
Appendix B. References and Web Links
Appendix C. Prohibited Projects and Unallowable Costs
Appendix D. Miscellaneous Projects
Appendix E. Planning Projects
Appendix F. New Airport Projects
Appendix G. Runway Projects
Appendix H. Taxiway Projects
Appendix I. Apron Projects
Appendix J. Airfield Marking, Signage, and Lighting Projects
Appendix K. Navigational Aid (NAVAID) and Weather Reporting Equipment Projects
Appendix L. Safety and Security Equipment Projects
Appendix M. Other Equipment Projects
Appendix N. Terminal Building Projects
Appendix O. Other Building Projects
Appendix P. Roads and Surface Transportation Projects
Appendix Q. Land Projects
Appendix R. Noise Compatibility Planning/Projects
Appendix S. Environmental Planning/Mitigation Projects
Appendix T. Military Airport Program Projects
Appendix U. Sponsor Procurement Requirements (Including 2 CFR §§ 200.317-200.326 (formerly 49 CFR § 18.36))
Appendix V. Revenue Sources for the Airport and Airway Trust Fund
Appendix W. Competition Plans
Appendix X. Buy American Guidance
Appendix Y. Federal Share at Public Land State Airports
Appendix Z. Establishment and Category Upgrade Policy for Instrument Landing Systems (ILS)

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Last updated: Tuesday, October 3, 2023