The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) is authorized by Title 49 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), which is referred to as the Act. Previously, the AIP was authorized by the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-248, as amended), which was repealed in 1994, and the provisions were recodified as Title 49, United States Code. The Act's broad objective is to assist in the development of a nationwide system of public-use airports adequate to meet the current projected growth of civil aviation. The Act provides funding for airport planning and development projects at airports included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The Act also authorizes funds for noise compatibility planning and to carry out noise compatibility programs as set forth in the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-143). The Act was amended in 1994, 1996, 2000, 2001 and again in 2002, to change annual appropriations for FY 1994 through FY 2003 as well as numerous other program changes. In December 2003 President George Bush signed into law FAA's new four-year reauthorization bill, "Vision 100 - The Century of Aviation Act", clearing the final hurdle for its enactment.
The highest aviation priority of the United States is the safe and secure operation of the airport and airway system. In the administration of the AIP, the FAA supports this policy by giving the highest priority to projects that enhance the safety and security of the nations airport system. Other major policy objectives are advanced by assigning high priority in the award of AIP funds to projects that "maintain current airport infrastructure" and increase the capacity of facilities to accommodate growing passenger and cargo traffic.