Lincoln Park, NJ – New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner James Simpson, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Craig Fuller, and other state officials today met with officials at Lincoln Park Airport to announce six grants that will provide more than $1.8 million in state funding for projects that enhance safety, promote state-of-good repair or advance studies for potential improvements at five of New Jersey’s general aviation airports.

The Christie Administration has invested more than $12.5 million in New Jersey’s general aviation airports in the past three years, leveraging an additional $33 million in federal grants for a total of $47 million in airport improvements.

“Our public-use airports play a vital role in New Jersey’s complex and diverse transportation network,” said DOT Commissioner Simpson. “In addition to being a key component of the state’s multimodal transportation infrastructure, New Jersey’s general aviation airports proved to be a critical resource for responding to Superstorm Sandy.” 

Tens of thousands of pounds of relief supplies, including food, water, clothing, blankets, and medical supplies, were flown into New Jersey by general aviation pilots volunteering their time and aircraft from states as far as Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Among other officials joining the commissioner at the event were New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) CEO Michele Brown and General Aviation Manufacturers Association President/CEO Pete Bunce.

“Public-use airports promote economic growth by providing businesses and their clients access and convenience, as well as providing a recreational option for residents,” said Brown. “Support of these facilities through state and federal grants helps promote economic growth.”

New Jersey’s airport system is one of the most complex in the nation. The state’s airports range in size from small public use airports with turf runways to Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the nation’s busiest commercial airports.   There are 43 public-use airports in New Jersey, 25 of which are privately owned.  New Jersey also is home to 314 heliports or helistops, including 35 at hospitals.

"General Aviation is a vital economic engine that supports more than 18,000 well-paying jobs in New Jersey and contributes $1.7 billion to the state's economy each year," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "New Jersey has a dynamic general aviation community and I am excited to have the opportunity to meet with fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts to talk about the issues that affect our freedom to fly."

Lincoln Park Airport is a privately-owned general aviation airport that supports a variety of users and activities handling nearly 29,000 operations annually.  It houses 102 aircraft and 5 helicopters, a flight school, which the Commissioner and other officials toured, a maintenance shop, and restaurant. The airport is receiving two separate grants. A $570,570 state grant will support a project to reconstruct a hangar taxiway on the east side of the airport and bring the pavement up to current standards. Another state grant of $246,032 will replace the existing fuel farm.

“This grant will enable us to combine our three storage tanks into one tank unit and upgrade our aging fueling system with a new and safer system,” Lincoln Park Airport Manager Peter DeRosa said.

The six grants announced today from the Fiscal Year 2013 Airport Improvement Program will support approximately $2.1 million in improvement projects at Sky Manor Airport in Pittstown (Hunterdon County); Eagles Nest Airport in Eagleswood Township and Lakewood Airport in Lakewood (Ocean County); Essex County Airport in Fairfield; and Lincoln Park Airport in Lincoln Park (Morris County).  The Federal Aviation Administration is providing $112,000 in funds and the airport owners are contributing $113,000 toward the cost of the projects, in addition to the $1.8 million from NJDOT.

AOPA is the largest aviation association in the world. It has a membership base of nearly 400,000 pilots and aviation enthusiasts in the United States.  AOPA provides member services that range from representation at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, advice, and other assistance.

GAMA provides facts and statistics on the general aviation industry among the aviation trade press and the national media, including the official report of shipment and billings data for the general aviation manufacturing industry.