EAA signs deal with FAA to cover controller expenses at Oshkosh

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has finalized a one-time agreement with the FAA to cover nearly $450,000 in expenses related to air traffic control services at the 2013 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in, which begins on July 29.

“Let me be clear: We have consistently regarded the FAA’s move as holding AirVenture and GA hostage this year,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton. “There was considerable, detailed thought given over the past month to every option and possible scenario. Ultimately, AirVenture’s importance to the entire general aviation economy and community, as well as to EAA’s year-round programs, was the overriding factor in our response. AirVenture will go on, and our attendees deserve nothing less than the best air safety and services we can provide.

“As far as we’re concerned, this isn’t over. We entered this agreement only because there was no other realistic choice to preserve aviation’s largest annual gathering. We also look forward to FAA’s leadership coming to Oshkosh this year to personally explain their policy to the nation’s aviators.”

Along with the completed agreement, EAA included a letter stating that it signed the contract under protest. Failure to sign with the FAA would have meant cancelling AirVenture, which would have been catastrophic for EAA’s year-round programs, EAA officials said.

The agreement allows for a partial payment of the $447,000 total bill prior to the event, with the remaining sum to be paid after the FAA has completed its AirVenture duties at Oshkosh.

The FAA’s demand for payment in relation to air traffic services, unexpectedly revealed by the agency in mid-May, left EAA, exhibitors and others in a position where millions of dollars had already been committed to AirVenture 2013. In addition, refusal of FAA services or not meeting the agency’s standards would have caused the FAA to void the necessary waivers that are essential for Oshkosh air operations during the event, EAA officials explained.

The one-time agreement will allow AirVenture to have a full complement of 87 FAA air traffic controllers and supervisors at the event for essential air safety services. Federal budget sequestration, however, will diminish the FAA’s presence at Oshkosh this year in areas such as forums and exhibits.

Pelton added that EAA members and other aviation enthusiasts need to be involved to counter FAA’s stated policy of expanding these financial demands on the nation’s aviation events in future years. EAA maintains that this equates to the imposition of GA user fees without Congressional approval, and 28 U.S. Senators have already signed a bipartisan letter calling the FAA move unacceptable and demanding immediate reversal.

“Our quarrel is not with the hard-working FAA employees who do their jobs at Oshkosh,” he said. “We understand that AirVenture and other GA events are pawns in the larger sequestration political standoff, so it’s important that we stand together and let those in Congress and the White House know the importance of aviation. We will do that in Oshkosh and we look forward to having those who love the freedom of flight stand with us.”

Comments

  1. Jasper Quick says:

    I’ve been attending the “EAA fly-in” in Oshkosh with some regularity for more than forty years. In 2012, for the first time ever, several of the announcers’ comments were overtly political in a sense unrelated to aviation. As a result I intend to discontinue my support of private aviation, especially as it relates to the Experimental Aircraft Association. The Oshkosh event has become a big, lackluster, money-driven trade show attempting to disguise itself as what it once was.

  2. Hm . . . it might be a good idea for the EAA to cancel this year’s event and hire the best lawyers the saved money will buy to challenge the FAA $450K service fee in court. Maybe the effort will hi-lite government over-reach and help slow down the government madness that prevails today. Also an AirVenture cancellation may motivate enough voters to tip senate control to the conservatives in 2014.

  3. I did a quick cut at the 19 cent fuel tax and its impact on AirVenture with last years 10,000 aircraft attendance. I made the following assumptions. 10,000 a/c flying from
    all 49 states with an average of an 800 nm flight both ways at around 120 kts using
    about 12 gph. This showed that the fuel tax paid was around $350,000. Interesting!

    Now I wonder about 87 atc’ers making an average of $100,000 / year working ?? hours
    plus expenses for AirVenture. Go ahead and calc your own figures.

    Even worse, the FAA still wants to create a separate bureaucracy to collect proposed new user fees. Where is there brain? Imagine keying the mike and getting this ATC response. “N1234A, identify and provide your credit card number for billing purposes.
    You are authorizing the FAA to charge you $100 for your flight.” Imagine that you are now providing a credit card number over a VHF voice channel that anyone can monitor.
    Thus the new bureaucracy will need to have us all enter a massive database and it also forces the FAA to pay third parties for credit card processing fees.

  4. Les Hicks says:

    The surprise fee presented by our FAA amounts to less than $1 per attendee to Airventure this year. Let’s go forward and have the fun, go to the forums, watch the airshows and enjoy a week with our friends of a common interest. But when our politicians need a favor or vote, ask them where they were when aviation needed support and where they were two years ago when FAA laid off 4000 employees and 40000 airport construction workers because Congress would not pass a continuing resolution extending FAA pay before Congress went on summer vacation. Now let’s go have some fun, but don’t forget who doesn’t have our back.

  5. Fritz Katz says:

    “the message they sent to the government by agreeing to this is not a good one.”

    Yeah, Mike K: ass, grass, gas or cash…nobody flies for free.

    Maybe not “good” news but 2013 reality… and well short of E>D> and Rosiak’s “sky is falling” “Obama plot” Chicken Little hysteria.

    Wait a second…that’s the same message FAA was forced by congressional obfuscators to send us… so we’re communicating = Walmart clerks shouldn’t have to subsidize our biggest party of the year… and Craig “RNC” Fuller and his AOPA PR flacks can’t get away with blatant lying about the $100 fee.

    Progress.

  6. This is only the tip of an ICEBERG ! The course of general aviation community is headed for disater ! To pass a special 3rd class medical renewal ; after waiting over 6months for a reply, Oak City was holding it up for all nurse’s notes in reguard to a recent stay in the hospital. My IA renewal required signing a privacy statement , which along with other things actually gave up some of your constitiutional privileges! The flight instructor renewal was right on course with some of the privacy taken away this time the one that stood out in the fine print was your physical condition ( like they can come into the bathroom and watch you releave yourself and check your flow on any given day at any time ) all under the privacy statement you must sign. We now know these privacy statements can be taylored by each office. The best one of all is the airspace being set aside for UAV’s ( drones) . By limiting the general public to airspace ; you got it guess what is on your course a giant ICEBERG. In closing ;!!as apply to about 40,000 airplanes on the ground, get out your laptop,paint uav( drone) on the side and off you go. After the servo installations you can fly up to 4 new designed at the same time in your own protected airspace. BEN S this is actually experience on bull , except for the in closing !!!!

  7. What has become very clear is that this Administration is not above placing partisan politics above moving the country forward. And it also very clear that it has become anti-general aviation due to its belief that the Republicans represent GA. Is it any wonder why the country has been so slow to recover with each side more concerned with pointing their political fingers versus making real progress?

  8. Mike Kilcher says:

    The EAA consents to an agreement with the FAA (Federal Government) that amounts to User Fees. This, as many other fly-ins are cancelled because they cannot afford to pay for dedicated air traffic services. The EAA can say what they like but their actions speak clearly of what they did. I fully understand the concerns and issues of the EAA/Airventure but, the message they sent to the government by agreeing to this is not a good one.

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