Rhetoric against GA continues

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Money continues to be the topic dominating the conversations and actions here as the President, Congress, and businesses, including aviation groups, face a series of challenges.

The federal debt is passing $16.5 trillion and increasing at the rate of $3.2 million a day. The President wants more taxes to slow it. That’s one spot where aviation groups differ with him. They also differ with his proposals to assess a fee on all flights using Air Traffic Control services and a reduction on the depreciation schedule for general aviation and business aircraft.

Officials from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) came out fighting after Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, commented about closing “loopholes” for items like corporate jets.

Craig Fuller, president and CEO of AOPA said: “AOPA is very disappointed in the Obama Administration’s endless attempts to lengthen the depreciation schedule for business aircraft. At a time of widespread concern over job creation in this country, we feel it is short-sighted to put further financial burdens on an industry that contributes positively to our nation’s balance of trade, and one that supports highly skilled, good-paying jobs.”

“Once again,” said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA, “the Obama Administration is starting the drumbeat that we could end all the fiscal challenges our nation faces by changing the depreciation schedule for general aviation and business aviation from five to seven years. Their rhetoric is wrong and all it does is hurt general aviation companies and workers across this country.”

“Purchasers of jets, turboprops, rotorcraft, and piston aircraft didn’t create the country’s misfortune, but contributes more than $150 billion to the economy annually and employ more than 1.2 million people,” he added.

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of NBAA, said the White House rhetoric about general aviation depreciation ignores established facts and long-standing tax policies related to business aircraft ownership and use. Noting changes to the depreciation schedule for GA aircraft would not yield meaningful progress toward reducing the national debt, Bolen added it has the potential to harm a great American industry.

Business jets are used by government officials. A report from the General Accounting Office shows that for fiscal year 2002 the federal government spent $289.9 million operating its aircraft. All cabinets in the administration have their own business jets. In that year 15,545 flight hours were racked up by business jets operated by the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Justice, State, Interior, Treasury, Transportation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and Tennessee Valley Authority.

The President’s business jets are two Boeing 747-200Bs operating as “Air Force One.” Cost to fly these on presidential business trips is $180,000 an hour. The recent extra vacation trip to Hawaii taken by the president in his business jet cost taxpayers $3 million. This business jet has also been used on local hops. One example is a 90-mile trip from Washington, D.C., to Richmond, Virginia.

Many in aviation are puzzled by the confusing positions of the President, who recognizes the value of aircraft for conducting government business while at the same time proposing raising taxes on individuals and companies that find business and personal aircraft of distinct value.

The issue is sure to continue.


  1. Bryan says

    The President of the United States is black. Deal with it.

    This silly name calling and manufactured partisan BS is taking a lot of effort. Efforts that would be better spent actually working against OMB’s user fees and privatization of ATC, (a particular darling issue of AOPA), which will lead to even higher user fees.

    • ManyDecadeGA says

      Already high and higher global ANSP user fees, and potential new user fees, come from sustaining an entirely obsolete (e.g., 1:1 VHF duplex COM), pork laden (e.g., FSSs and unneeded towers), and excessively expensive to operate and maintain (ancient handcarrying radar based separation) Air Traffic System, ….especially here in the US. It is the Administration and FAA that are in turn failing to do the proper preparation for NextGen rationally, as they are currently headed for a $40B failure. There are vastly better ways to now do ATS with 3D and 4D based automated RNP separated trajectories, than by retaining failed ideas like obsolete WAAS and airspace wasting LPV. It is the President who is failing to take the needed action to fix the DOT, to fix the FAA, to in turn fix the airspace system’s problems. The pending proposed unnecessary fee levels, resulting from sustaining an archaic FAA ATS system, are a direct result. AOPA is also completely muffing the ball on all this by advocating protecting expensive nonsense for NextGen. So deal with it?

  2. ManyDecadeGA says

    GAMA, NBAA, and AOPA’s argument for not paying more aviation taxes for ATS services would be stronger and more effective if they were not still supporting, if not even advocating, wasteful and obsolete aspects of both the current ATS system, and even seriously flawed aspects of Nextgen. The current obsolete ATS system simply cannot be sustained economically or technically using its present outdated concept of 1:1 “hand carried aircraft” using radar vectors and duplex voice party line COM. Examples abound for continued FAA waste, that unnecessarily drive pressure for more GA taxes. From airspace wasteful concepts like LPV (unnecessary use of angular straight-in criteria), and obsolete SBAS (WAAS – which is no longer needed with 30+ SVs, GBAS, Galileo, and with use of modern avionics and RNP), …to long unnecessary excess FSSs and towers, …GA needs to take stock, and advocate practical technical and cost reduction changes to NextGen, if any argument to resist more GA taxes are to ever be effective.

  3. Venus Savage says

    What a shock: A special interest group, representing primarily the folks who have benefited most from our great country, is against additional taxes. Even though Americans on the whole are taxed at one of the lowest effective rates of any developed nation.

    Obama’s on the right track; our Conservative friends are simply unable to admit otherwise. The depreciation schedule for aircraft should be lengthened.

    Big business is doing just fine in America. The market’s rising and the coffers of many companies are bursting. It’s an employer’s market, with all the talent on the streets looking for a job. And productivity, because of this and other factors, is at an all time high.

    The use of business aircraft by government officials is nothing new. And last I checked, the top end of the business jet market is humming right along. So, maybe, those folks should pay a bit more.

    Every bit of revenue is meaningful in reducing the budget deficit. To say otherwise is just plain false. And with the termination of our involvement in Afghanistan, we’ll be spending less in the not too distant future.

    The real question is, why doesn’t AOPA and other organizations do anything about the absurdly low pay received by flight instructors, even those folks who choose to try and make a career of it? Here’s why: Because everyone, including this site, only supports those who have a lot of money and power. The folks who—by earning poverty level wages keep the cost of GA down—receive no support either as wage earners or professionals.

    • Chris G says

      I am a flight instructor. CFI, CFII, MEI. AOPA and most other aviation organizations provide tremendous support for the instructor community. Please do not speak for us especially when you know nothing about what you are writing about.

    • C. J. Pappas says

      Apparently nobody has looked at history.
      The “soak the rich” tax (the-Sen Danforth) imposed in about 1980 created an additional tax on boats. As a result, 25,000 + workers in boat industry were laid off. Over200 boat mfg. went out of business.

      This tax did not affect the wealthy. They just bought their yachts from overseas and registered them in no-tax countries. The people that just liked the water – not wealthy, generally middle or lower class just liked an affordable escape – sailing for me…17 ft boat…no yacht.

      Nowadays, I have a very small (1969 Piper Arrow-hardly a luxury jet) aircraft that i use mainly for business as I am trying to start a new business. I travel on the East Coast (low carbon emissions),

      Aircraft additional taxes and I will drive on average 5 hrs for every 1 hr I used TO fly.

      PLUS flying is a community of friends, not big dog CEO’s. They have corporate pilots.

      This aviation tax is counter-productive and counter-intuitive.

  4. says

    Obama has 4 more years to screw the county up then he’s gone for good.
    Then we elect people who are qualified to clean up the mess. I’m sure Jimmy carter
    Is sitting somewhere smiling ear to ear just watching Obama dig a bigger whole.

    hunker down, work hard, It will all be over soon…

  5. Ray Klein says

    Obama and his administration want to “fundementaly change america”, his words. If you don’t get that, I will make it simple. He will DO anything, LIE about anything, and attempt to TEAR DOWN anything or anyone that impedes his agenda. The economy and deficit are not on his AGENDA. Clear enough?

    • Don says

      Your right and he will not stop until our great country has torn itself apart. Leading the our own president. Creating class divisions. Burdening the very people with higher taxes who keep the country strong. At the same time demonizing them for working hard, being successful, and helping others have good paying jobs. It ain’t just aviation he is after it every hard working successful business owner in this country. He spits in the face of our constitution. We must not give up or give in. Keep fighting.

  6. Michael Dean says

    “Many in aviation are puzzled by the confusing positions of the President…”

    Really? Ain’t that hard to figure out.

  7. Michael Dean says

    “The President wants more taxes to slow it.”

    Ah… no he doesn’t. He just wants more taxes. He has no intention of slowing the growing deficit. If he did, he’d take serious steps to slow his spending. But instead he’s talking even more spending. On things that the federal government has Constitutional authority.

  8. Kent Misegades says

    If the same leaders of the aviation alphabets would instead educate themselves and Congress on the benefits of replacing the entire tax code with the FairTax, this would all be a moot point. There would be no taxes of any kind for corporate aircraft, other than the same consumption tax on the purchase of new products and services as on a loaf of bread. No need to keep records or file any tax forms on the use of the planes. No issues using the same plane for both business and pleasure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *