Another day, another tax. Mr. McCollom’s idea of fixing the FAA’s operating capital deficit (A simple fix, May 5 issue) could be equated to the comedian Gallagher’s approach to slicing and dicing fruits and vegetables with the Sledge-O-Matic. In other words, we have a problem, let’s just tax everybody (some more) and see if it goes away. Never mind that we have an inefficient governmental organization that blows through money like they print it themselves. Also ignore the fact that a substantial fraction of pilots do not use the FSS to any significant level in the first place. Let’s just hit them all with more fees anyway — after all, if you fly you must have more money than you know what to do with.
Personally, I fly (business and pleasure) about 100 hours per year, give or take a bit. My trips range from short hops to multiple hour cross country legs. Given the numerous sources of weather and other information available to us through avenues other than the FAA, I find it virtually unnecessary to have any contact with FSS throughout the vast majority of my air time. During the past two or three years I think I contacted the FSS for an in-flight weather update, or similar request, three or four times, adding up to maybe 10 minutes of conversation. Yet Mr. McCollom seems to think that I should pay hundreds of dollars in taxes for those privileged few minutes.
I, for one, would be fully supportive of user fees — after all, the system for billing is already in place. Just try to tie up somewhere overnight without checking in at the airport office. In no time you’ll get an invoice at home for the brief stay, all tracked through your N-number. Virtually all service oriented businesses function off of the “play and pay” format, why not flight service? Despite the fact that many of us fly, not all of us necessarily use the “system.” As such, taxing us based on fuel use is poor policy since it’s based on a hasty generalization and an erroneous assumption.