HAI’s Government Affairs team on a new SAF grant program from the FAA and the latest on confirmation hearings for President Biden’s nominee for FAA administrator.
What to Expect if the US Government Shuts Down
Please read today’s ROTOR Daily Top Story for the most current information about what the potential government shutdown means for vertical aviation.
SAF Fuel Transition Grant Program Unveiled
The FAA has unveiled a funding initiative totaling nearly $300 million to support projects aimed at expediting the deployment of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and low-emission technologies. The new grant program, known as Fueling Aviation’s Sustainable Transition (FAST), is a pivotal measure in realizing the FAA’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Enacted under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the FAST program is designed as a competitive grant initiative emphasizing sustainable aviation fuel (FAST-SAF) and low-emission aviation technologies (FAST-TECH). FAST-SAF grants are earmarked for activities encompassing the production, transportation, blending, and storage of SAF. FAST-TECH funds are allocated to advance projects focused on aviation technologies that curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, enhance aircraft fuel efficiency, and bolster the use of SAF.
The SAF portion of the program, termed FAST-SAF, will provide $244.5 million in grants to support the build-out of infrastructure projects related to SAF production, transportation, blending, and storage. The low-emission technology portion of the program, termed FAST-Tech, will provide $46.5 million in grants to develop and demonstrate new aviation technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
The FAA will issue its first round of grant awards around mid-2024. Interested parties are encouraged to submit their applications by Nov. 27 via grants.gov. To provide insights into the Notice of Funding Opportunity and address queries, the FAA has scheduled a webinar for Oct. 2 at 1:00 pm eastern time.
FAA Administrator Nominee Hearing Scheduled for Next Week
This week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation revealed its plans to conduct a confirmation hearing for Michael Whitaker, President Joe Biden’s nominee to assume leadership of the FAA.
The hearing, scheduled for Oct. 5, is set to transpire against the backdrop of an impending government shutdown and a potential lapse in the FAA’s authorization—developments that could significantly affect air travel.
Whitaker, who is currently COO of Supernal, brings to the table a previous role as the agency’s deputy administrator along with his experience as a private pilot. During his tenure at the FAA, he played a crucial role in overseeing the transition to satellite-based air traffic control technologies.
HAI strongly urges the Senate to proceed with Whitaker’s nomination.
Word on the Street
By Chuck Street, HAI Western Regional Representative
HAI Chief Government Affairs Officer Cade Clark and I visited Hawaii this month, gaining valuable insights from the HAI member air tour operators we met with about their concerns and priorities. We also had the opportunity to meet with two elected state officials for educational purposes and talked with an operations supervisor at the Honolulu FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and the deputy director of Hawaii airports. The four-day visit proved to be a productive exchange of information.
This week, I enjoyed meeting with the HAI Board of Directors and HAI leadership during the board meeting in Anaheim, California, and hearing their enthusiasm and optimism in planning for HAI HELI-EXPO 2024. Their agenda included tours of the Anaheim Convention Center and Fullerton Municipal Airport (KFUL). Anticipation is high, and the event—Feb. 27–29—is shaping up to be exceptionally exciting!