The new FAA: Nimble

[Start sarcasm]: The FAA has seen the light. With its budget challenged by sequestration, FAA brass came up with a “pay for play” program to extort — er… I mean bill — the nation’s fly-ins for traffic control.

This is a great thing.

You see, FAA leadership has realized now what uncertainty means.

So in the future, when ICON Aircraft asks for a weight exemption for its light-sport aircraft, it will hear back in weeks rather than months (or years).

When any manufacturer wants to add an inflatable seatbelt or brighter and lower powered landing light, they should expect a prompt reply from the new, nimble FAA.

I see good things in general aviation’s future. [End sarcasm]


  1. Joseph Wooldridge says

    Seems like “tax fairness” would be to spread the costs of ATC to the people who are actually doing the traveling, which are the passengers. So a plane carrying 200 people should pay more than a plane carrying 2. Best way is through taxes on the fuel. Big planes use more, little planes use less. A user fee would mean that the plane carrying 2 would pay 100 times more per passenger than the plane carrying 200. Unless of course you just don’t like little planes in which case a user fee would be a good way to stomp them out of existence.

  2. Maynard McKillen says

    As far back in time as April, 2007, the Bush Administration proposed user fees to end the state of unearned entitlement enjoyed by corporate jets flying in controlled airspace. At that time, the FAA, with a Bush appointee at the helm, released Fact Sheet – Impact of the Administration Financing Proposal on General Aviation.

    Here are a few inconvenient facts from that document:

    “The allocation found that GA drives approximately 16 percent of the costs of air traffic services. Nearly 10 percent is related to high performance GA aircraft such as corporate jets, while 6 percent is related to piston GA aircraft. These figures do not include flight service stations, which largely serve the GA community.”

    “In contrast, GA currently contributes just over 3 percent of the taxes that flow into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.”

    “The bottom line is that under the current system, the family of four taking a budget vacation (i.e., traveling by commercial air flight) is subsidizing the CEOs flying on a corporate jet.”

    “The (user fee) proposal would reduce the tax burden on airlines and the passengers who fly them. This is less a tax break for the airlines than the elimination of a subsidy to general aviation.”

    “Our proposal addresses this inequity in a way that will allow GA to continue to thrive, while coming much closer to covering the costs they drive in the aviation system.”

    Corporate jets flying in controlled airspace are not paying their fair share of the costs for the flight routing services they incur. The operators and owners of these corporate jets are welfare recipients. John Q. Taxpayer is subsidizing their junkets to AirVenture, and all their other flights, and Mr. Taxpayer has been doing so for decades!

    Mr. Fuller and other Republican apologists are foisting a claim that charging to have FAA air controllers work AirVenture amounts to double taxation. Odd claim, when too many of the affluent freeloaders at the top of this sorry excuse for an economy haven’t paid anywhere near enough in taxes for decades. Fuller’s former boss and patron saint, Reagan, helped to institutionalize the supply-side economic policies that created this weak, hollowed out economy and now strangle the middle class.

    Fuel taxes are not, repeat not, high enough to cover the costs of flight routing services rendered to GA, not adequate to fund Next Gen, and not adequate to cover GA’s proportional contribution to the Airport and Airway trust Fund. Hence the irony that a Republican Administration, and a sorry one at that, proposed user fees in an attempt to do the right thing, restore some taxing equity. Even limited government costs something, and the haves can’t pass along all of the costs to the have-nots, whom they have been pick-pocketing for decades.

    The policies advocated by Fuller and his Republican cronies have increased income inequality dramatically in the past several decades, making the number of average Americans who can afford to own and operate a single-engine piston aircraft a pitiful shadow of what it once was. So, no, I don’t buy any “principled stand” on this issue. Defending status quo entitlement for an undeserving special interest group, the affluent freeloaders who “win” in this “economy”, is merely indulging in ideological myopia, an ‘I own the bat and the ball, and the playing field, so I make the rules.” mentality.

    • Bart says

      So you agree that use fees are really a means of extorting money from “rich old white men”, and don’t have anything to do with safety, which you never mention.

      • Fritz Katz says

        At the risk of speaking for the far wiser Maynard, I’d respond:

        In YOUR fevered imagination, maybe.

        What part of “unearned entitlement” and “not paying for the services they demand/get” did you not understand, Bart?

        Maybe ask your smarter pal Milhouse Van Houten to explain those to you.

        Are you claiming the rich/poor gap has NOT widened into a Grand Canyon in recent decades?

        What ARE you trying to say?

        And what in the HELL convinced you — likely an insurrectionist and FAA hater — to muddy the waters by bringing up safety? Without the FAA, we’d all be living in bunkers to survive the plague of falling uncertified aircraft manufactured by cost-cutting corporations and flown by unlicensed “me first” cowboy pilots. Let the UL fatality stats from the 70s and 80s be your guide to how well self-regulation works

        God bless the FAA and all who toil within her.

        PS I see you learned a new word “extort” from Spence, Sclair, Busch, and Fuller and like the multimillionaires you admire (despite your barely five figure and tenuous no fringes salary) are determined to wear it out. Do you now curse the supermarket cashier for extorting money from you for groceries? ConEd for extorting your light bill payment? Your Dentist extorting for an extraction?

        Use it? Pay for it. ALL of it. Ass, grass, gas or cash. Nobody flies for free.

        And NO… the gallonage tax does NOT pay for a special event, admission-charged, world’s largest av party… only for PART of the incremental, routine, enroute services utilized coming and going.

        Do ya know who pays for the rest? That grocery cashier, that Wichita lineman, that Dentist. But they’re not posting on here to tell you what they think of your wish the “free” ride continues forever. They’re working.

      • Maynard McKillen says

        Why no, in fact. What an odd misstatement of my comments, facts and arguments.

        Congress is far too beholden to the whims and avarice of the wealthy and the corporations, who enjoy unearned, undeserved entitlement that does not benefit the nation, does not strengthen and stabilize the economy, and does not trickle down in any sustainable way to the middle class. You want to argue that making these affluent freeloaders, of whatever age, color or race, pay the costs of the flight routing services they incur when their corporate jets pass through controlled airspace amounts to extortion? How so? These individuals are a higher class of Americans entitled to largesse? Why?

        I’d be just as happy to see the fuel tax raised on the jet fuel that is pumped into the tanks of those corporate jets. Sorry, but I have a real hard time believing this, or a user fee, will create any tangible hardship. Oh sure, the freeloaders, grown fat, lazy and overweened after decades of entitlement, will make ridiculous claims that finally paying their fair share is “double-taxation” (Hah!). Let’em whine.

        You did notice, by the way, that Mr. Sclair did not mention safety, either. I will agree that he implied it, at least in regard to the lack of speed with which the FAA addresses safety-related improvements.

        But do you mention safety in a different context? Perhaps you mean the FAA is stepping back from responsibility for safety by, and I’ll use the word you both employ, “extorting” money from EAA for the use of air traffic controllers during AirVenture. Perhaps you mean the FAA is now making safety a commodity, a pay-to-get-it extra. Mr. Sclair seems to suggest this. How, please explain, is the FAA at fault?

        Last time I checked no one from the FAA also holds a seat in Congress. Last time I checked, no one from the FAA signed any moronic pledges to veto tax increases on affluent freeloaders and force them to finally, finally join the rest of us who do our civic and patriotic duty and pay for the services that protect the freedom, and safety, we enjoy. Yeah, the safety. They should pay for it, too.

        Last time I checked it wasn’t the FAA who could claim to have invented sequestration, surely one of the most stupid, irresponsible, cowardly and useless notions ever conceived, and one which any knuckle dragging hominid would have aborted. But apparently there are members of Congress who haven’t evolved higher cognitive centers in the brain yet.

        So the morons and troglodytes in Congress set the stage for this ridiculous brinksmanship, this sequestration. To paraphrase Hosea 8:7, these elected idiots sowed the wind, and the rest of us reap the whirlwind. While I fault the FAA for pointless, self-important, internally self-contradictory rulemaking, and heel dragging that strangles innovation and dulls competitive advantage, I blame Congress for the infantile, asinine obstructionism that tied the FAA’s hands. Safety? I know who to blame.

        If, when you mention safety, you are instead taking your lead from Mr. Sclair, who appears to intimate that the FAA will most likely remain a constipated bureaucracy beset by red tape(worms), then the three of us actually agree. I want the FAA to be a lean, mean, safety machine, approving safety features and procedures much more efficiently, quickly. Time to force feed it a bureaulaxative, subject the regs to liposuction, and curb its appetite for “Catch 22” rulemaking with a bariatric band. Bureaucracy is just one of the parasites of government, reducing its efficiency, vitality and effectiveness, and doesn’t deserve anything more than the appropriate parasiticide.

  3. Ken Burrell says

    I think the FAA is an essential part of why America has the best general aviation in the world, and it is primarily because the FAA has duly followed its Congressional charter to provide excellent oversight, and has duly followed the laws of the land in following the NRPM process, showing its character as a law-abiding agency that expects all pilots to show the same respect for the law. But, this recent report about the FAA attempting to raise funds by calling it a user-fee, and doing so without Congress having delegated their constitutional role in raising funds for the federal government, is really hard to believe that it really originated with the FAA. What caused someone in a federal agency of the executive branch to decide that they had the authority to raise funds for the executive branch?

  4. Fritz Katz says

    Nice try, boys.


    Dear Mr Rogers,

    One dollar.

    One dollar per visitor would pay for the total estimated cost of having the FAA staff a tower during AV.

    How deep do my (or your) pockets have to be to come up with that?

    I’ve flown, instructed, and given check rides in multi and turbine but if you’re flying glass, the aircraft I hope to bring to OSH next month is worth less than one quarter the cost of your avionics or a few years of hangar rental for Meyers in monetary terms… but priceless to me. It lets me enjoy the same freedom, challenge, and scenery, savoring it BETTER as it passes by lower and slower. If that (and not expecting clerks at WalMart to pay for it) makes me a “strange personality” to you and your friends, GFY. And PS: I am not alone in thinking all you fancy ladies doth protest too much on this AV tower thing.

    Also Bill, you have the cast of characters perfectly reversed in this concatenation. Those bleating the loudest against ANY tower surcharge are the wealthy right wingers — partly out of simple political venality since losing AGAIN, but mostly because they are the tightest with a buck. Like the guy in the limo in the Midas ad said: “How do you think we got this rich?”

    And one of them is BS Bob Meyers.

    Facts, Bobby?

    Since when did YOU give two sheets about facts?

    And what makes you think that in post-Bush-abyss 2013 the USA…the non-flying USA… can afford to offer the touchy-feely-facetime FAA “communication” you and I once took for granted? Suck it up, Bobby.

    Are you denying your hero RNC zealot Craig Fuller has been lying to audiences about the $100 flight fees applying to recips since Our President proposed his painful but necessary budget? That is my claim because I have heard him do it… and everyone else has read such breezy disinformation spewing from him and his AOPA sycophants.

    Are you denying that the gallonage taxes paid coming and going to OSH are NOT designed to cover a members-only special events extravaganza at the end of the trip but only the routine incremental costs of enroute weather services, enroute flight following, enroute flight plans, and (in several “Destination OSH” cases EVERY year) a portion of emergency handling and search/crash coordination? That one to three hundred thousand you speak of is already spent from sea to shining sea… none left for our big party at Wittman.

    You sound like a corporate executive, manager, or at least bean counter. Are the hourly and/or per unit costs for operating your firm at home day in and day out the same as packing up personnel and equipment and reestablishing production for a very brief period at a very remote location without those former economies of scale and local suppliers? Don’t forget to include costs of pre-expedition negotiation, planning, legal consultation, and all ancillary expenses before you quibble about how much is too much.

    And as always you and EAA are free to find and hire cheaper shittier private subs if you like. Good luck with that. As John Ruskin told us centuries ago: “there is always SOMEone who will provide crappy service a little cheaper and those for whom cost is the only criterion are his lawful prey.” I’d rather pay my dollar, thanks.

    Ass, grass, gas or cash…nobody flies for free… anymore.

  5. Louis Manyak says

    I am probably living in the past, but i thought the controllers considered it an honor to work OSH and volunteered, just like the performers. If the FAA is so important and needed why has the accident rate changed so little over the years even though we have more rules and regulations than ever?

  6. Melvin Freedman says

    Fritz you are so right about craig fuller, and yes aviation does need oversight on acft mfgrs and what they maked. If not we’d have a sky full of corvairs, remenber that car?
    Ben, their is merit in what you say. Sure like to see you take on the 3rd class med.

  7. Fritz Katz says

    Freedom of speech in a democracy protects critique and TQM heeds it.

    But most of the above and ALL the cheapskate “let someone else pay” response to the OSH ATC services bill (and especially the lying sack Craig Fuller disinformation campaign seeking to foster protest for his personal RNC reasons) stinks of ungrateful, unrealistic, selfish “me first & me only” anarchists/insurrectionists.

    Is that what now makes up most of formerly responsible, ethical GA?

    Can you even BEGIN to imagine the chaos and slaughter if corporations and cowboy pilots were allowed to manuacutre/sell/do whatever they wanted whenever and wherever they wanted without the current NPRM-vetted minimal regulation and statistically infrequent enforcement… or even opprobrium?

    Thank GOD for the FAA and everyone working there.

    • says

      Well Fritz,

      Glad to read your well reasoned arguments. Nothing but facts in your reply.

      Let’s start with some.

      First, there are less than 100 controllers that will be at AirVenture, usually less than 75 actually. That half a million dollar figure works out to more than a $5,000 fee per controller for the event. Good to see the FAA working hard to keep costs down.

      Second, the 10,000+ aircraft that will generate more than 30,000 traffic movements handled by the controllers have to get there and back home. They will all contribute via fuel taxes that are supposed to be used to cover those controller expenses among other things. Guess what, I bet most of them fly to places other than Oshkosh during the rest of the year and use fuel for that as well.

      It is hard to put a fuel total on activity related just to Oshkosh, but based on how many planes come and go and how many movements are handled. I would guess the 19.4 cent per gallon GA fuel tax will generate anything from a very conservative low of $100,000 to in excess of $300,000.

      That hardly seems like a “let someone else pay” attitude.

      It is also a premier event for the aviation community that the FAA has used effectively to communicate with a large group of FAA users. The FAA might consider paying EAA just for the goodwill and opportunity to communicate with those customers, err, excuse me “me first & me only” anarchists/insurrectionists.

      • Rich says

        Thanks, Bob.
        Fritz the (crazy) Kat needs to put down his crack pipe and end his enfatuation with Craig Fuller.

        My only disagreement with you is about how much taxes are collected and paid by people flying to OSH. I would guess it is much higher.

        If 10,000 planes all burn 100 gallons of fuel to get there and another 100 gallons to get home and pay 19 cents a gallon that is about $380,000.00 alone.
        And I would guess they burn more way more than that on average.

        Plus the warbirds burn up a bunch and tax is paid on all that , also.

        • Fritz Katz says

          You’re welcome, Rob… but the Maynard McKillen piece (above) really put the issue to rest, not me.

          The RNC’s favorite son Craig Fuller blatantly lies all year to ingratiate himself with the 1%, offshoring jetset, squeeze more $$ from the lemmings into his trickle down “incentives” account, and demean our duly elected President. This inspires the greedy “me first — me only” crowd who won’t (certainly not CAN’T) pay an extra dollar to defray costs for our shindig to scream bloody murder and (too ironically) “discrimination.”

          Not the responsible, honest, FAA-appreciating GA I once knew, for sure.

    • William Rogers says

      You sir, to my friends and myself, are a very strange personality indeed. Everyone I know that is involved in anything to do with flying disagrees with your support of the FAA’s position on fees. You obviously have very deep pockets that can handle whatever the FAA decides to do. Maybe you’re hoping the fees will drive those of us who do not have those same pockets full of cash out of the sky leaving it for you alone. Indeed you are truly a strange person with no regard for those of us less fortunate than you!

  8. says

    My definition of “Bureaucracy” is when an agency, formed to serve the public, becomes self serving – unfortunately that is now the definition of most of government….

    • Greg W says

      Indeed a Bureaucracy exists for and to perpetuate itself. I long for the days of the GADOs they seemed to understand that they were there to help us, at lest GADO 8 in Grand Rapids MI did.

  9. C. David Buchanan says

    Another change to anticipate:
    The Government will now begin to compensate General Aviation for the costs incurred due to TFRs.

  10. says

    I’m speechless. When has that ever happened before?

    Does this mean that I no longer have to make an appointment 24 hours in advance to visit a FSDO and renew my CFI? I assume the rationale for the notice required by the old FAA was to give them time to schedule a rep to be in the office rather than out on a ramp somewhere, making aviation safer and more accessible. But I could have that wrong. Like Avis Rent a Car, will they now try harder?

    Time will tell…assuming they paid the electric bill that keeps the big clock running.

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