EAA asked to cover some costs for AirVenture controllers

Even after the Congress enacted legislation that enabled the FAA to fully fund air traffic services, the agency is asking the Experimental Aircraft Association to cover some of the costs for its AirVenture operations, including air traffic controllers’ travel, per diems, and overtime, which had traditionally been covered by the FAA.

“This issue is significantly bigger than AirVenture,” said EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton. “We’ll have full air traffic staffing and operations at Oshkosh and are well-prepared for our event. Unfortunately this is coming at a great cost to EAA.

“The larger issue, however, is about the unknown and alarming new direction the FAA is taking in charging for an equivalent level of safety that has previously been provided,” he continued. “If the FAA asks for reimbursement on certain AirVenture operations for which it has always budgeted, where else could the agency unilaterally impose assessments, fees, and other costs on GA? It’s a frightening thought.”

EAA and other aviation organizations agree that GA should continue to contribute its fair share to FAA and national airspace operations through the current aviation fuel tax. EAA officials said they will, however, “vigorously oppose efforts to burden aviators with costs for which the FAA already receives funding and has budgeted as part of its stated mission of providing a safe, efficient national airspace system.”

Echoing the EAA’s comments are officials with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), who said this is akin to double taxation.

“This is extremely troubling news,” said Craig Fuller, AOPA president and CEO. “We’ve warned that the Obama administration wants to hit general aviation with user fees, and that’s exactly what it’s doing to the EAA and AirVenture. To depart from previous practice suggests that the FAA has entered a new, pay-as-you-go era with little regard for safety. General aviation already pays for FAA services through substantial fuel taxes. These user fees — there is no other word for them — are a double taxation.”

“These sorts of user fees will stymie a vibrant, innovative general aviation industry that is just starting to realize economic recovery,” Fuller said. “This administration seems to feel that it can tax and impose additional fees without consequence. But these tactics will ground dozens of pilots and planes, eliminate jobs and diminish GA’s contribution to our economy.”

User fees have again been included in the Obama administration’s latest proposed annual budget, and AOPA, along with other GA alphabet groups, are already working to defeat that proposal.

A bipartisan group of 223 members of Congress recently signed a letter to the president opposing such fees. Congress has repeatedly defeated previous user fee proposals.


  1. Are you kidding says

    EAA makes $30 million off this event.
    The EAA President picks up more than half a million in salary + bonuses based on how much cash he squeezes out of the event.

    But you guys think the taxpayer should foot the bill for the party? This kind of greed kills all of the good arguments against user fees. In normal operations, GA pays their fair share. But when one groups puts on an event like this to make a ton of cash and then says they shouldn’t have to contribute a dime, you lose the moral high ground.

    If a company puts on a marathon in a city, they have to pay for the extra police and fire, because they add a cost, same for thousands of special events all over the country. Saying you shouldn’t be held to the same standard because you like to fly makes the whole GA community look bad. EAA isn’t being a responsible advocate, they just want to keep more of the ticket fees in their pockets at the expense of the rest of us.

    Why should EAA charge me to go to the show if I already pay membership dues? Same argument.

  2. Ray Winslow says

    Lets do thid with no FAA!
    We landed 40+ airplanes on a carrier after an Alpha Strike in less that 30 minutes !
    We can figure this out !
    Want some help, please call !


  3. Dave says

    Pay for federal salaried employees to perform the very duties for which the American people hired them?

    The inmates are running the asylum!

  4. Jeff Scott says

    You guys are right on the mark. Tell the FAA to keep their controllers. The biggest event in aviation can go on just fine without the FAA. If the EAA has to pay for controllers, then as a voting members, I vote for contract controllers to do the task and leave the FAA sitting on the sideline with egg on their faces.

  5. Mack Kreizenbeck says

    Does EAA really need the FAA for Airventure?
    As I see it, most of the control work is done by volunteers!
    I’m sure that there are qualified people ready to step in
    and take over where the FAA leaves off.

  6. Greg says

    I’m sorry but I believe Jack Pelton and the EAA have just signed the death warrant for GA if they agree to this extortion by the FAA. We as pilots are more than willing to pay for the services we use. The AOPA and the EAA as well as several other GA groups have been very open with the fact that we as pilots should contribute as we historically have by fuel taxes. Raise the fuel tax if need be, but the additional imposition of charges at the whim of the FAA under the threat of withholding services I don’t believe would even hold up under legal scrutiny and certainly has not been approved by majority rule.

  7. says

    I agree with Steve. Contract controllers is the way to go. It will relieve GA from some of pressure that the Feds are putting on GA. Less government means more freedom for us to make our own decisions as to what direction we want GA to go.

  8. Arthur Dodd says

    The FAA has already received the money to pay for ATC. It’s called Federal Income Taxation and we all pay it in many forms and large amounts.

  9. Tom says

    I’d think that the FAA gets a lot of its funding from events like these. If I fly to Oshkosh, I’ll burn at least 2 tanks of fuel for the trip there and back, for a fuel tax paid of about $20. Multiplied by 10 to 15 thousand airplanes that go to Airventure, let’s just say a conservative $200,000. Considering that many planes burn a lot more fuel than my little Cardinal, it’s probably a lot more than that. Certainly, some are closer, some are farther away.

  10. Steve says

    If EAA has to pay for overtime, per-diems, etc. Can we maybe get more bang for the buck with contract controllers instead of union members?

    • Douglas Manuel says

      I think Steve’s comment warrants consideration. Studies have shown contract controllers are equal to or better at providing safe separation services. I have been to many airshows and know that ‘Air bosses’ are really efficient so why not get a group of them to resolve this issue.

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