AIN Blog: Just Say No

AINonline
May 23, 2012 - 9:33pm

Flying is going to become more costly and constrained, if the U.S. government persists in efforts to tax business aircraft operators and limit their freedom to operate in the name of security, not to mention FAA actions that are causing more work for everyone.

Writing in the Inside Washington column in the National Air Transportation Association’s second-quarter 2012 Aviation Business Journal, Eric Byer, NATA v-p of industry and government affairs, pointed out that government agencies are circumventing the rulemaking process by issuing guidance material that becomes “considered mandatory even though technically it is not.”

For a long time, we have worried about the Transportation Security Administration’s plans to impose regulations on business aircraft operations. While the TSA claims to have evaluated the security risks posed by general aviation, it has refused to share the tiniest scrap of information with the stakeholders, those who operate aircraft. Without any real information, we are left to assume that the TSA is simply seeking ways to justify growing its bloated bureaucracy by regulating GA security. The TSA keeps promising to issue new proposed regulations on GA security, covering large aircraft operations, so watch out.

The FAA seems to generate its own procedures to over-regulate GA regularly. This appears not only with the guidance material that Byer aptly describes, but also with arbitrary requirements that have no safety benefit. For example, an avionics manufacturer told me of vibration requirements to meet helicopter certification standards. This particular unit has to be able to withstand a vibration so severe that any human occupants in the helicopter would be torn apart. Ummm, OK, so the avionics survived but the pilots were killed? Right.

Another example: the growing proliferation of Letters of Authorization required for operations that any skilled pilot can easily handle. Did you need an LOA to shoot your first ILS approach? Or to fly your jet at extremely high altitudes? Or to land at John F. Kennedy Airport at rush hour? All these LOAs do is increase your costs, add to the FAA’s burden (more bureaucracy, please) and do nothing to improve safety.

Now we have the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is ignoring decades of rulings and legislation in a reinterpretation of what type of operators pay the so-called “ticket tax.”

It is abundantly clear in reading the legislation that created the ticket tax that it applies to commercial flight operations, which means airlines and charter flights. And previous IRS rulings support that claim. Yet in March, the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel issued an internal memo, a Chief Counsel Advice (CCA) document, that justifies applying the ticket tax (Federal Excise Tax or FET) to Part 91 operations, specifically aircraft managed by management companies. As Byer noted, “Although the CCA is not technically able to be used or cited as precedent, it has already widely circulated within the agency and will certainly influence how ongoing and future audits are approached. The general aviation industry has enough to worry about nowadays, let alone an IRS fishing expedition that has legally been repeatedly shot down and is simply a free-time activity for a bunch of pencil pushers.”

So what should you do about government over-reaching, not only into your and your owner’s wallets but also the abuse of your rights and basic freedoms?

Just say no.

When the IRS says that it wants FET for a private flight by an aircraft owner in his or her airplane on his or her own business, say no. The rules clearly do not require a tax on Part 91 flights.

And when the FAA tries to tell you that guidance in an advisory circular or inspector policy document must be followed, just say no. Rules are rules and must be complied with, but FAA inspectors are not allowed to make up their own rules. Period.

And when the TSA issues the next version of the Large Aircraft Security Program, read the proposed regulations carefully and submit your comments. If the rules don’t make sense, that is, they do not specifically improve the security risk posed by GA operations, then say so, loud and clear.

And, added Byer, “I strongly encourage you to take action! Write your members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.” Both NATA and NBAA have handy online tools for contacting your legislators.

We have let our government consolidate too much power and we are allowing agencies to chip away at our freedoms. “I wonder,” wrote NATA president James Coyne in a recent President’s Letter, “if our founding fathers could even imagine how much regulatory power their limited federal government would one day command.”

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Frustrated Instructor
on May 25, 2012 - 12:31pm

The damage has already been done. None of this is going to make much difference, when you consider that aviation businesses (other than the airlines who are catered to by the FAA and the rest of the government, and large flight schools who are subsidized by the airlines) are dropping like flies right now(or moving to China).
How may manufacturers are left? Aside from Jets, what are they selling? For how much?
In this area, where there were at one time 7 flight schools, there are now two, though one of them might not be operating in another year. The flight school that I worked for just packed up and quit too, so now I've nowhere to instruct. Go to one of the other flight schools? Yea, tried that. They have their own problems keeping thier current flight instructors busy. I guess I'm just going to quit flying.

I'm actually trying to find an airplane I can buy to start my own school, but the fees and regulations and whatnot appear daunting to my over-strained budget.

Good thing I have a day job...

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Dave Bundy
on May 25, 2012 - 12:47pm

Keep up the good work. If we don't fight harder to preserve our libertys as Americans and GA aviators they will be eliminated. It is apparent that our government wants our country to be like other more socialistic country's that regulates an individuals every turn.

Dave

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Daniel
on May 25, 2012 - 3:22pm

There is a lot of items available to the LSA community that would greatly enhance GA but we cant use these items because the FAA requires them to be TSO's where as the LSA community doesnt have that hurdle. Just think, a full glass cockpit with built in GPS that would greatly increase situational awareness as well as full engine monitoring at an affordable price. Or electronic ignition and fuel injection for the little cessna's beechcrafts or pipers. The technoligy is already there yet because of the FAA we are limited in what we can use in our GA aircraft while the LSA people are able to enjoy all these items with no oversight.

One day we might be able to enjoy these items without the FAA hassle but it will take people bonding together, contacting their elected officials and putting massive pressure on the FAA for they covet their power and wont lightly give in. Already their are many grumbling about this and talk of action but so far its only talk. maybe with the EAA and AOPA trying to get medical requirements relaxed will be the first step on our way to getting the FAA to see reason. But I dont hold much hope.
Recently i sent a proposal to the FAA to allow aircraft owners who hold an A&P to be able to perform their own conditional inspections on GA aircraft that was not used for hire instead of an annual. The FAA answer was that an A&P mechanic wasnt able to determine airworthiness. As a 25 year A&P and a pilot, I was shocked but thats the way the FAA thinks when they feel like they might loose some of their authority.

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Mark Renaud
on May 25, 2012 - 3:50pm

The best way to stop the constant proposals of raising current fuel taxes and the current admistration asking for a European style tax on every flight is to write and call your Congressman and Senator, and keep calling and writing. Do not let up! It is the publics silence that has let the over taxation and over regulation of our every day lives creep into our society. We as the public deserve the government we have because we have not been active enough in letting our politicians know how we feel. It is not to late to start right now and not let up!

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Ryan Biggs
on May 26, 2012 - 6:52am

I'm going to go out on a limb here and invite you all to shout me down.

I think the TSA is a bunch of nonsense as much as the rest of us, and I'm for fuel taxes and not at all for user fees. Hell, I don't like regulations. I'd rather be able to drive 100 mph all the time.

But personally I think that there is a role for the FAA and the feds. It's not impossible for government to be a positive thing. A lack of government is just anarchy. It just has to be good government, which we don't have right now because everyone is too busy shouting their truisms like "down with regulation!"

It's fashionable to condemn any sort of regulation right now, but step back and realize most of the FARs are written in blood. And if you think "the liberals" are what's killing GA and the well being of the average working American, well, just don't expect things to get any better until we wise up.

Never mind that the TSA got all this power during the Bush years and the conservatives just demanded we all salute. The liberals are as inept as they always have been and don't really run anything. The reason I'm not flying any more isn't because of too many regulations. I'm not flying any more because the economy sucks. The economy sucks because too much financial power is in the hands of inept financial industry institutions that don't contribute to the physical economy but have more power over peoples' lives than most governments and have been using that power to further their own interests at the expense of ours.

I think the reason we are all so pissed at regulations and taxes is that we are already facing countless restrictions and financial pressures coming from other directions, so government demands seem like the last straw. Fine. At least the government is accountable to us. Let's take it over. But if we just want to abolish it all -- well, good luck attaining that upwardly mobile lifestyle we all want while living in a plutocratic banana republic.

Unless you're a plutocrat. In that case, by all means...

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William Robertson
on May 26, 2012 - 8:03am

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that government is responsible for limiting individual pain and suffering. The laws of nature and common sense should entice a person to act responsibly, not regulation. I advocate personal responsibility over the rule of law any day. Because with responsibility comes freedom. We often forget that as we drift toward the system of taxation and regulation our forefathers fought to be freed from.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. "
Benjamin Franklin

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Terry
on May 29, 2012 - 12:31pm

Think GA has it bad, try earning a living driving a truck. Less hours to drive for safety reasons but the NTSA's own numbers disprove it. So they will do it anyway while it is re-examined. Then the attemp to put electronic logs in trucks that can be queried by cops driving next to you. You get to pay for this even though it was thrown out in court. All the bureaucrats in D.C. who couldn't get a real job are now regulating the companies that wouldn't hire them are justifying their position by coming up with rules. Preach what you Practice. You live by conservative rules and raise your children with conservative goals. Stop voting for liberals and stop expecting the Federal Government to solve your or other folk's problems. Some people just suck at life and your money will not help them. Get your head around the fact that the Federal government is different from any other local government. Why has following laws, honoring the Constitution and giving personal value to an Oath become such a radical idea? How about integrity and honesty, that is the only platform the Tea Party calls for. After that the rest gets easy.

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Gerard Binnendijk
on May 30, 2012 - 1:21am

Just look where the Europeans got themselves by JAA (JAR-FCL)
Simply killing GA. In Europe there are "Men at Work" that have no clou about aviation (read AOPA News letters) and AOPA_ePilot@aopa.org. The GA biz is in a large decline but the administrators of EASA "have done a great job". If we get lucky the Britts and French Aviation Admins can maybe safe GA for the future. Presently it looks grim. So stop any over regulating in the US. The FAA system is still the best in the world "common sense" method.

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matt
on June 21, 2012 - 1:47pm

Since the TSA and Secret Service have no intention of re-opening DCA (Reagan National) to real GA operations, I think it is time for AOPA and EAA to say no and demand that no AIP funding or any other GA taxes go toward DCA. Let the airlines pay for DCA themselves since they are the only ones allowed normal access. Maybe that will stir the pot and get some attention to the over-regulation problem in aviation.

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Mediatorjet
on December 16, 2012 - 4:45pm

A pilot flying Carolinas Heathcare aircraft in Charlotte, NC was terminated because the pilot objected to being forced by CHS unlicensed dispatchers in the hospital distpatch department to fly 30 hours straight without sleep in violation of the Federal Aviation Agency's (FAA) maximum mandated 14 hour ON CALL 14 hour work duty period. CHS does not even have an FAA air carrier license to charge patients to fly on CHS aircraft but uses a "wavier" which allows CHS to use the FAA Air Carrier Certificate of a private, for-profit air charter company that charges $8,000 per flight to CHS to defer crash liability away from CHS. When you see the CHS helicopter and jet fly over, please remember the CHS aircraft are being piloted by an air charter company that charges an extra $8,000 per flight just to let CHS use their air carrier license to charge & carry CHS patients/passengers and the Mecklenburg County NC taxpayers & Medicare is being hosed for the extra $8,000 per flight. The pilot's lawsuit is in the public records at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. Remember, if you or your family are ever a patient on a CHS aircraft and it crashes, you will have to sue one of the two private, for-profit air carrier companies, Landmark Aviation in Winston Salem, NC who operates the fixed-wing aircraft and/or sue Air Methods who operates the rotor-wing helicopters from Colorado. The FAA & DOT is aware of the pilot rest & other safety violations on CHS aircraft but allows the violations to continue due to political pressure per Ed Timberlake of the Charlotte FAA FSDO office. Ask your doctor if he/she can operate without their own medical license by simply paying a fee to use the license of another doctor. Ask your attorney if he/she can practice law without their own law license by simply paying a fee to use the license of another attorney. Ask USAirways if they can operate without their own FAA Air Carrier Certificate by simply paying a fee to use the Air Carrier Certificate of American Airlines. Until the FAA and DOT rescind the waiver that allows a hospital to pay another private, for-profit air carier to operate the hospital aircraft, Mecklenburg County and Medicare will contunure to be billed and extra $8,000 to fly on CHS aircraft that are operated illegally by being flown overweight and by pilots who are required by CHS Pilot/CEO Mike Tarwater to either violate pilot rest rules or be terminated or sit at the airport for 7 days a week for 12 hours per shift. CHS CEO Mike Tarwater is a hospital charter pilot himself and is aware that the pilot rest rules are being violated. Landmark Aviation stated they would have to hire and bill CHS for another 18 fixed-wing pilots in order for CHS to legally advertise that aircraft are availabe 24/7 but CHS did not want to pay the salaries of another 18 pilots. If you do not believe me, look up the lawsuit in Mecklenburg County NC courthouse against Piedmont Aviation, now named Landmark Aviation.

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