Industry Groups Ready To Take On FAA

 - July 31, 2013, 10:40 AM

The heads of the various general aviation trade associations participated in a roundtable forum here at AirVenture Tuesday to discuss the industry’s deteriorating relationship with the FAA. Attendees were asked to sign petitions opposing user fees and the FAA’s imposition on air traffic fees at AirVenture and given “This Isn’t Over Buttons,” referring to the EAA’s continuing legal challenge of those fees.

Both the tone and the volume of the messages from industry leaders were combative and defiant. “User fees are really taxes,” said Ed Bolen, president of the NBAA. Bolen warned, “The ability to tax is the ability to destroy.” Bolen sees a clear and present danger in that ability being shifted from elected officials, who are accountable to the public, to the non-elected bureaucrats. “These are dangerous precedents,” he warned, in clear reference to the FAA’s new fees on AirVenture and other airshows.

Speakers took on FAA inertia on a wide variety of topics, from reform of the requirements for pilot third-class medical certificates to aircraft certification. Outgoing AOPA president Craig Fuller related that FAA officials told him that reform of the medical, considered by some essential to keeping an aging pilot population flying, “was not a priority for us at the FAA.” Fuller called this “very troubling. We can’t keep going forward this way.”

“A number of agencies including the FAA have really lost the ability to control themselves,” observed Helicopter Association International (HAI) president Matt Zuccaro. “They are doing things they know they don’t have the authority to do and are taking the attitude “You are going to have to sue me to stop me but we are doing it.’”

General Aviation Manufacturers Association president Pete Bunce was particularly animated in his criticism of the FAA when it comes to new aircraft certification issues and agency “inertia.”

“It costs $50 million to $100 million to develop a new piston [engine powered] aircraft and so much of that is because of the FAA,” Bunce noted. This has a wide variety of adverse consequences, Bunce said, including a burgeoning number of airworthiness directives for older aircraft because “the aviation age of the [general aviation] fleet is 40 years old. They make it so hard to introduce new aircraft. This is all the FAA’s doing. If we don’t get Congress to beat the FAA on the head and say ‘stop this madness,’ then we are going to stay in this downward cycle. My members are absolutely fed up with it.”


The FAA has lost the ability to regulate itself, and the imposition of additional ATC fee's is an illegal extension of FAA authority. The FAA is costing the US economy jobs, when they make it so hard to get parts certified and on the market. There needs to be more FAA out in the work place observing what goes on, and less FAA officials in cubicals processing regulations paperwork. The only regulation paperwork that is needed now, is to simplify and remove regulations. Regulations do not make flying safer, people make flying safer. The FAA needs to be hiring people who know what airplanes look like, how they work, and how to deal with the people who fix and fly them. The adversarial role between the FAA and the airplane operators needs to done away with. The head of the FAA needs to make this JOB ONE.
Keith Baird

The current FAA administrator has no obvious qualifications for running the FAA. His college degree is in political science, with a graduate degree in international relations. He is not a pilot. His employment has been all, or mostly, politically appointed jobs, such as city port authorities, and as an executive for the Olympics.
What in this qualifies him to run the FAA? Aviation is a high technology, science and engineering intensive activity. What does his background have to do with this? While sometimes individuals can rise above their nominal qualifications, this guy looks like a typical career bureaucrat, who is unlikely to do anything bold or risky for his personal career. More likely he will make platitudes about safety, make more regulations under that banner, and we will continue to lose freedoms.

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