Helicopter Association International (HAI) president Matt Zuccaro fired back at the White House following its late February call for an end to the alternate depreciation tax plan for corporate aircraft. The tax plan allows buyers of general aviation aircraft to depreciate their purchases over five years rather than the seven-year depreciation mandated for commercial aviation.
“I find it unbelievable that such continued initiatives, seemingly aimed at eliminating general aviation, are being promoted by a President who is one of the most frequent users of corporate aircraft via his travel on the peoples’ aircraft that we pay for,” said Zuccaro. “I support his use of these aircraft to perform his duties and responsibilities. But is it too much to ask that private individuals and corporations also be allowed to realize the benefits of general aviation for their business activities? Especially since we pay our own way by the millions of dollars we already give to the government via existing aviation-related taxes, while [creating] 1.2 million jobs and contributing $150 billion to the U.S. economy annually, as we serve the needs of society. This is especially true with regard to helicopter operations such as law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical transport, power line construction and repair, etc.”
Zuccaro’s comments were in response to White House press secretary Jay Carney’s comment on February 20 that it would be a “better option” to make the “difficult choice” to change the depreciation plan and possibly hurt manufacturing jobs to chip away at the sequester and its domestic spending cuts.
General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) CEO Pete Bunce also responded forcefully. “These statements are totally outrageous and Mr. Carney should apologize,” said Bunce. “It’s completely offensive to refer to hard-working Americans as ‘difficult choices.’ This administration should stop the sound bites and political games and focus on fixing our economy. Instead of inflicting further damage to general aviation, this administration should be working with us to create a favorable environment that will foster growth, employment and world leadership as it relates to aviation activities.”
Meanwhile, HAI has shown its willingness to make and accept changes where needed. The organization has announced organizational staffing moves aimed at keeping pace with members’ changing needs. J. Heffernan, formerly vice president of aviation and product safety for Sikorsky Helicopters, has returned to HAI as director of safety, and current director of safety Stan Rose has taken the newly created position of director of safety outreach programs.
“Providing our members with the highest level of safety programs, operational and regulatory support so as to enhance their day-to-day activities is the heart of our mission,” said Zuccaro. “These changes strengthen an already strong department and will make it possible for us to better enhance our member services in these areas.”