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AOPA urges Pennsylvania lawmakers to help develop hangars

State investment in hangar development and funding for airports were AOPA’s primary focus in testimony to the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee on April 20.

AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins testifies on the state of aviation in Pennsylvania. Image courtesy of the Pennsylvania Senate Aviation Committee.

The committee invited AOPA to speak at a public hearing and press conference hosted by Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr. at the John-Murtha Johnstown/Cambria County Airport.

Several aviation experts and transportation officials testified about the state of Pennsylvania’s aviation system—addressing topics including workforce, economic impact, land use, air freight, and uncrewed aircraft.

AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins highlighted the beneficial economic impact of general aviation while also making a case for Pennsylvania to invest in hangar development projects at public-use airports, and encouraged development of a strategic program for investing in Pennsylvania’s airports.

Pennsylvania is home to more than 17,000 pilots and 6,100 aircraft. A 2022 economic impact study conducted by the state Bureau of Aviation found that GA activity in the state generates approximately $1.5 billion in economic output and supports more than 8,000 jobs.

“The ability of the state’s aviation system to efficiently meet future demand for travel depends upon Pennsylvania’s ability to maintain its facilities in a state of good repair, undertake prudent modernization projects, and pursue strategic initiatives to prepare for coming advances in technology,” Collins wrote in his submitted testimony.

Hangar development is a top priority for AOPA, as hangar inventory across the country is declining. An increasing number of aging hangars are being demolished, displacing tenants, which in turn reduces economic activity at airports.

In 2021, AOPA partnered with the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Aviation Advisory Council, and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Aviation to conduct a survey on hangars used for light GA aircraft storage in the state.

The survey found that on average, airports in Pennsylvania generate more than 40 percent of their revenue from hangars. Additionally, 90 percent of existing hangars in the state are occupied and 64 percent of airports have a hangar waiting list.

The survey also found the most reported impediment to new hangar development was a lack of funding. “Based on our analysis of PA hangars, the legislature should prioritize dedicated state investment in ‘revenue-generating projects’ to offset the high cost of hangar development,” Collins wrote.

Six revenue-generating sources for necessary strategic investment in Pennsylvania’s aviation system were proposed by the Transportation Advisory Committee’s Aviation Task Force final report. AOPA appreciates the TAC’s recommendations to dedicate associated tax revenues back to the aviation industry and also a recommendation to increase aviation fuel tax rates in the state—considering it is the “most equitable and efficient method of generating stable aviation funding.”

However, adequate funding for the aviation system will also require new sources of revenue from outside the aviation industry. “Without a strategic program of adequate investment, the state’s infrastructure will continue to deteriorate,” Collins wrote. “Pennsylvania should prioritize those sources that minimize the creation of new bureaucracy while ensuring the greatest stability of funding for decades to come.”

“FAA investment in airport safety and capacity issues brings people to Pennsylvania. But it’s state investment that keeps people in Pennsylvania,” said Collins. “You have the opportunity to invest in revenue generating projects and services and that’s really where the crux of your economic activity comes from for general aviation.”

Lillian Geil

Communications Specialist
Communications Specialist Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Advocacy, State Legislation

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