Questions abound about proposed user fee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Small Business Committee recently held a hearing about President Obama’s proposal to charge a $100 per flight user fee for some flying. Committee Chairman Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) came out strongly against the proposal, as did many of the committee members.

Some people involved in general aviation believe that since the proposed fee applies only to turbine-powered aircraft, the proposal should not be a concern for most general aviation pilots. But many argue that is not the case.

Alphabet groups, including many general aviation organizations and airline groups, oppose the fee. Some of this opposition is based on knowledge of what other nations have experienced and are experiencing.

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NBAA denounces President’s attack during debate on business aviation

User fees on general aviation are still a threat as President Obama raised their ugly head in his comments on taxes during the debate Wednesday night (Oct. 3) with Mitt Romney. The President’s statement brought a quick condemnation from Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association.

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Recession, fuel costs ground pilots

WASHINGTON, D.C. — General aviation is going to have an uphill struggle to get back into the growth mode, according to a 92-page report released late last month.

The report is based on the thesis of two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which delves into the current and historic trends in GA in the United States. It was prepared with support from the FAA and various general aviation publications.

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NextGen getting on track but problems persist

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After long delays and high cost overruns, development of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is starting to get back on track, but because of program problems, users of the system are reluctant to invest in equipment for their aircraft.

The FAA has been spending about $1 billion a year since the program was launched almost nine years ago. Expenditure for the completed project is forecast to be $20 billion to $27 billion, making it one of the largest single projects undertaken by the federal government.

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Strong opposition to user fees repeated

Publisher note: This story was updated (see content in parens in the opening paragraph) September 18, 2012.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama’s proposal to impose a $100 per-flight user fee (which as currently proposed on Page 31 here exempts, “All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights.”) got a going over Wednesday, Sept.12, in the Small Business Committee of the House of Representatives with strong opposition to it, but with indications that some witnesses and members of the legislature would continue to press for the charge. Just one witness attempted to justify the charge by maintaining that a fee-for-use is the fairest method of raising revenue.

Primary support for the fee came from University Professor Kenneth J. Button, PhD, who insisted that the only fair means of allocating costs for any product or service is a direct fee. He said, “the current system is wrong and fees more attuned to costs would provide signals to users of the economic implications of their flights.” [Read more...]

Aircraft owners asked to participate in FAA survey

Aircraft owners are asked to participate in the FAA’s 34th annual general aviation Part 135 survey for 2011 data. The survey is the only source of information about the general aviation fleet and data gathered helps the FAA to determine funding for infrastructure and service needs, assess the impact of regulatory changes, and measure aviation safety.

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Bringing gridlock to the skies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As members of Congress come back to their offices Sept. 10 after the August vacation, aviation interests will be eager to see what, if anything, is done about “sequestration,” which might cut $1 billion from the FAA budget.

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Political convention TFRs demand serious study

The FAA has issued first notices of flight restrictions for the two political conventions and flights to, from or through the areas — Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, N.C. — will be affected, with pilots needing to be alert not only for the announced early Temporary Flight Restrictions, but also for any last-minute changes or additions that may come about.

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Inspector General to assess NextGen progress

Is the FAA moving as it should in decisions and actions relating to the Next Generation Air Transportation System — NextGen — and if not, why not? That is what the office of Inspector General of the Department of Transportation will try to determine in an audit of the FAA’s progress on the program.

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Contract towers equal in safety, less in cost

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 250 air traffic control towers operated under contract to the FAA handle 28% of all operations, but cost only 14% of the budget, according to statements before an aviation subcommittee whose members expressed concerns about possible severe cuts in operations if the President’s threatened automatic budget sequester goes into effect in January.

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