Really? Are there only 3,035 general aviators out there who are against paying a $100 per flight user fee?
Click here to sign the petition. If you’re not already convinced, then please read on.
Maybe you’ve been busy with work. Maybe you’ve been caught up in a family member getting ready to graduate from high school or college, just like me. Perhaps you haven’t heard about our President’s proposal to have general aviators pay a $100 fee for each flight. That last one is possible, but not likely.
Security is about protecting things and activities that are important to us. Regulations and tax proposals, just like terrorists and thieves, can be categorized as threats to our freedom to fly. This proposal is a direct threat, every bit as much as Al Qaeda and Los Zetas, and much closer to home.
Yes, I know that there is language in the President’s proposed budget to exclude piston aircraft and flight operations outside of controlled airspace. Hmmm…well, if you can stand to stay below 700 feet AGL, or maybe 1,200 feet AGL tops, you might be able to avoid such fees. But how will you prove that you didn’t climb to 1,201?
Why should the owner of a small single engine aircraft with a turbine engine have to pay the proposed fee when a much larger multi-engine aircraft that is powered by reciprocating or radial engines doesn’t? Who is responsible in the administration for doing a sanity check on this stuff anyway?
Did the President’s staff of wise advisors consider what it takes to create the brand new right seater flying that airliner that takes them home at Thanksgiving? Maybe they just expect Air Force One to give them a lift. Did they consider just how many new student pilots it takes to train and support in order to eventually achieve that new airline pilot?
Sure, they could say just one. But that would miss the big picture of the size of the general aviation industry that supports the entire production effort of all student pilots to get that one statistical first pilot. Consider how costs of operation would skyrocket if we lost the general aviation industry’s current economies of scale. Consider the impact to future aviation safety with fewer airline pilot candidates to choose from.
So add just $100 to every flight. What’s an extra $100 to all of those really rich pilots who have nothing better to do than buzz around on the weekends? We’ll never miss it, will we?
This proposal is perched atop a slippery slope. Once implemented, what’s to prevent a new schedule of fees for piston aircraft or those that remain in uncontrolled airspace? The precedent will already have been set.
Fellow general aviators, this proposal is an even bigger threat than the withdrawn proposal for the Large Aircraft Security Program. We sent a clear message to TSA with well over 7,000 negative responses. Up to now we don’t even have half of the needed 25,000 signatures to send a wake-up call to the White House.
If you want to send a message to the President that we don’t want his $100 user fee and would like him to publicly justify it using hard facts and numbers, then click here to go the WhiteHouse.gov webpage and sign the petition. You’ll find my signature there; it’s number 3,018. I hope to see yours there, too!
Fly safe and be secure.
Dave Hook, an expert on general aviation security, is president of Planehook Aviation Services, LLC in San Antonio, Texas.