Grants for projects under the AIP are typically only given to publicly owned, public use airports with a few exceptions. Further, to be eligible for a grant, an airport must be included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The NPIAS, which is prepared by the FAA and published every 2 years, identifies public-use airports considered necessary to provide a safe, efficient, and integrated system of airports to meet the needs of civilian aviation, national defense, and the Postal Service. The NPIAS currently contains approximately 3,700 airports.
Recipients of grants are commonly called sponsors. Sponsors must meet basic qualifications set up by the FAA to receive AIP grants. In addition, a sponsor must be legally, financially, and otherwise able to assume and carry out the assurances and obligations contained in the project application and grant agreement. AIP grants are issued to airport sponsors for the following types of activities:
- Airport Planning - Typical planning projects may involve planning on an areawide or individual airport basis, ranging from large integrated airport system plans for states, regions, or metropolitan areas to smaller master plans for individual airports. These plans identify and evaluate the aviation facilities needed to meet the current and future air transportation needs of the particular study group.
- Airport Development - Eligible development projects may include facilities or equipment associated with the construction, improvement, or repair of an airport (excluding routine maintenance). Typical work items include: land acquisition; site preparation; vegetation management projects (including tree clearing); construction, alteration, and repair of runways, taxiways, aprons, and roads within airport boundaries; construction and installation of lighting, utilities, navigational aids, and aviation related weather reporting equipment; safety equipment, including equipment for aircraft rescue and fire-fighting; security equipment; snow removal equipment and buildings to house such equipment; limited terminal building development; and equipment to measure runway surface friction.
- Airport Capacity - The 1987 Act provides for a portion of AIP funds to be spent on projects which significantly enhance or preserve airport capacity. A typical Capacity Study may identify facilities and/or recommend procedures to improve efficiency of air traffic operations, which could lead to several Airport Development Projects at the airport.
- Noise Compatibility - Eligible projects consist of items that are contained in an airport noise compatibility program approved by the FAA under the provisions of the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 150. Soundproofing of buildings which are affected by noise from a nearby airport are typical projects eligible for AIP funds. Eligible projects include soundproofing of public schools and hospitals, as well as the soundproofing of local residence.