WASHINGTON. D.C. — Anti-general aviation measures in President Obama’s proposed budget for 2015 will keep GA’s alphabet groups busy working Congress to once again defeat the same issue they have fought in past years.
The main proposals affecting aviation are: A $100 fee for some GA flights; a reduction in time for business to take depreciation on aircraft; and a $65 million reduction in funding for NextGen.
In their usual “play-it-safe” political stance to avoid any possibility of making a government individual angry, aviation leaders have expressed disappointment with what the president has proposed.
Officials at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) said that association’s disappointment comes first from again seeing the $100 fee proposal, even after it has been defeated the past four times the president proposed it. NBAA officials said it is frustrating that it must again mobilize to defeat what a proposal that not only aviation opposes, but also other groups.
NBAA also is ratcheting up its work to oppose the change in depreciation laws. Obama wants to change the time for businesses to depreciate aircraft purchases.
“This is the only business tool facing this problem,” an NBAA official said. Other business tools — from trucks to tractors — are not affected, causing NBAA to wonder why the president has singled out general aviation business aircraft.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) cites disappointment in the budget call for the $100-per-flight fee.
“We are disappointed that the president doesn’t seem to have gotten the message,” said Mark Baker, AOPA president.
The proposal has been defeated the past four years. Only days before the budget was released, leaders of the House Aviation Subcommittee and the co-chairs of the House General Aviation Caucus sent a letter to the president, reiterating their strong opposition to any user fee. In that letter, the representatives said general aviation is vital to the economic well-being of the nation. They reminded the president that last April, 223 members of the House of Representatives signed a bipartisan letter to him outlining opposition to any such fee.
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), like other groups, wonders why the President continues to propose a per-flight user fee after being told by members of Congress that the surcharge “is dead on arrival” if sent in the budget.
The cut in funding for NextGen, EAA says, raises the questions of not only the progress to date for NextGen, but also where it is headed.
They note that aircraft owners are reluctant to invest in equipment that perhaps will not be needed or might not work. The association says there are many complications in NextGen and perhaps now is the time to step back and take a fresh look at it.
Officials at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said they were“extremely disappointed” that the budget threatens to throw down obstacles to recovery by seeking to impose a $100-per-flight user fee.
GAMA also called the president’s proposal to increase the depreciation period on purchases “very disappointing.”
Officials at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said the proposed spending for NextGen represents a cut of almost 20% from the amount proposed just two years ago. AIA urged a recommitment to NextGen.
Consistently calling for a $100-per-flight user fee to help fund the FAA prompts other suggestions for raising money from some in the nation’s Capitol.
One is for the president to give up a few flights on Air Force One. To operate the president’s plush personal perk costs $181,757 per hour, a figure now a couple of years old, meaning it is probably higher now.
This is only a portion of the expense. There are other aircraft that carry cargo, people working for and with the president, such as media, security, and others. The cost of the recent Hawaiian vacation was an estimated $4 million.
At $100-per-flight user fee, that use of Air Force One would pay for 40,000 general aviation flights.