House Aviation Leaders Repeat to Obama: No User Fees

AINalerts » February 28, 2012
February 28, 2012, 2:40 PM

Bipartisan members of the House of Representatives are circulating a letter to President Obama “expressing our strong opposition” to the proposed $100-per-flight fee on commercial and general aviation operators of turbine aircraft contained in his 2013 budget proposal. The letter was signed by the leaders of the House aviation subcommittee and the chairmen of the General Aviation Caucus, as well as more than 60 other members of Congress.

“Aviation user fees have been proposed several times by different Administrations, both Republican and Democrat,” they wrote. “Congress has repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected them.”

According to the letter, the fee would have “devastating impact” on commercial and general aviation, as well as the aviation manufacturing industry. “Imposing a $100-per-flight fee on commercial and general aviation is the wrong approach, and we respectfully request that you abandon this idea once and for all,” the lawmakers wrote.

NBAA has also set up a “Contact Congress” page where visitors can send personalized letters to their representatives in Congress about the aviation industry’s “united opposition to user fees.”

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GL KELLY
on February 29, 2012 - 5:49pm

As usual this President has missed the mark and is trying to further his agenda of destroying every facet of this country he can.Incompetence to the ninth degree, I weep for the furture because of his actions.Respectfully GL KELLY

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SC Booth
on February 29, 2012 - 6:14pm

Amen, GL Kelly. I honestly don't think it is incompetence, I believe he wants people to be subserviant to government. His agenda is clear as you stated.
God Bless America.

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pierre m. hartman
on February 29, 2012 - 6:46pm

the point that must be driven home to the administration is the biggest danger to all people flying for whatever reason, regardless of what type of aircraft they are flying: that is SAFETY IN THE AIR, because user fees will discourage VFR pilots from contacting Air Traffic Control for any help at all in order to avoid a user fee (and a pretty excessive one at that, at least to pilots of small aircraft.

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AP
on February 29, 2012 - 10:01pm

pierre m. hartman,
how many vfr pilots, do you know, are flying turbine powered aircraft?

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Lee Ensminger
on February 29, 2012 - 10:45pm

Well AP, I'd say the answer to your question is the same number of governments around the world that don't expand taxes or fees once their foot is in the door and an agency, which will need ever-increasing funding, is created.

Zero.

This may be stated as a turbine-only user fee, but only the very naive will think that it won't soon expand to EVERY aircraft who talks to ATC. They'll create an agency to collect and process this fee, which will never be as much money as they'll spend to collect it, then when it doesn't break even it will be expanded to include ANY aircraft talking to ATC. And when people stop talking to ATC, safety goes down the drain. Also, $100.00 is only the opening bid. It'll increase rapidly.

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JES
on February 29, 2012 - 7:02pm

The president keeps demonstrating that he simply does not understand aviation. His thoughts are that anyone in aviation is a "rich fat cat". Meanwhile, he flies away on vacations to Hawaii on board his 747 grounding everyone else wherever he wants to be.

With direct user fees such as proposed, pilots will stop using the services that generate the fees to whatever extent possible. That becomes an absolute compromise of safety. Unfortunately, the president simply can't get past the "fat cat" image, so all further arguments fall on deaf ears.

While the user fees are only proposed for light jets, there is no question that once in place, the rest of GA will get the same treatment. It's a divide and conquer strategy, which is why we have to hold the line here.

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L. Leon Kay
on February 29, 2012 - 8:10pm

It is time that people who know absolutely nothing about aviation stop making laws and establishing fees and regulations on something they don't understand. We have had administrators and directors that are not pilots. You can't know what it is all about because you fly on a commercial airplane or Air Force One.

This may sound self serving however, that is a fact of life!

Leon

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Jim Vinson
on February 29, 2012 - 8:21pm

Give me a break!!! I the middle of this article is an advertisement for the interior of a Gulfstream IV. Anyone who can afford THIS can afford to pay the fees.

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Chad Trautvetter
on March 1, 2012 - 11:10am

Jim, not everyone flies a Gulfstream. There are many small/medium-size companies that use turboprops or light jets to move non-executive employees to offices in small towns where there currently is no airline service. Business aircraft can allow company employees to be more efficient when traveling, and when the benefits outweight the costs companies will use these aircraft.

Anyways, just because they can afford the user fees doesn’t mean the government needs to charge it. How would you like it if your local town imposed a $5 road user fee (applicable for every trip you take) on people who drive a car worth more than $25,000, just because the town officials thought these citizens “could afford it?” The Obama Administration has to first make the case that the additional funds are needed before they can impose a new user fee. And if it can justify the need for more funds, then why not just increase the fuel taxes instead? Why impose a user fee that is the same whether you fly 100 miles or 5,000 miles? How is that fair?

Aviation user fees are just going to encourage turbine aircraft operators to skirt the IFR system, which is going to decrease aviation safety. Dumb, dumb, dumb…

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Bill
on February 29, 2012 - 9:31pm

Jim
The argument is not about more money going to to gov for services. I think the majority of pilots will sign up to contributing more via the current method of fuel taxes. I will, and have said so in letters to the white house and congress. HOWEVER, there IS a problem with the proposal of user fees. They will adversely affect flight safety, create more government bureocracy to collect and count the money (so the $ are less effective in purpose), and preferentially coddle the airlines. Fuel tax is spread much more uniformly across all users on an energy per seat mile basis. The evidence of user fee effect is already available by looking at the lack of aviation in Europe.

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Maynard McKillen
on February 29, 2012 - 10:52pm

I am relieved to see a bit of diversity of opinion entering the commentary. For a while it seemed I'd stumbled upon the sandbox where petulant republican men-children go to piss.
I read the reauthorization bill. I mean the old one, the one containing the user fees. Most of what gets passed around at sites like these, and, I'm sorry to say, by AOPA and, most regretably, by EAA, contains numerous and sometimes calculated misrepresentations and distortions about the nature of user fees, the scope of user fees, and the results of user fees. Before you yell "fire'" in the crowded movie theater, read the actual proposal for user fees, not any "summary" or "explanation", especially, again I'm sad to say, from these otherwise responsible, sage and vital organizations.
To the adults in the room, overhearing these kids, I say we need to talk them down from the panic attacks, coach them to take big slow breaths, separate what was really said from the "conspiracies-are-everywhere" tapes playing in their heads, and we'll get them through adolescence. I'm not changing this sand, though...
Gripe all you want, it is your sandbox, but the actual design, rationale and proposed implementation of user fees is equitable.

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Crighton
on March 2, 2012 - 11:51am

I'm glad you appreciate diversity. I do, as well.

Maybe it is equitable, maybe not. Regardless, it is beyond stupid to create a new tax mechanism when all that needs to be done is to raise the already in place tax on aviation fuel.

A new government bureaucracy is a bad idea whether it is equitable or not. Not that I agree it is equitable, but let's assume reasonable people can disagree.

Also, as with almost all government actions, there will be unintended consequences. If you don't worry that some of those unintended consequences will affect safety of flight, I have to assume you are not really concerned with safety of flight.

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Citizen1
on March 1, 2012 - 12:13am

This comment above should be removed, user deleted.

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Citizen1
on March 1, 2012 - 12:15am

I meant the one with the racial slur. There is NO PLACE for that in the discussion. Or any discussion.

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Chad Trautvetter
on March 1, 2012 - 9:04am

Comment has been deleted. Agreed that the now-deleted comment has no place in any discussion.

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Bob Atkins
on March 1, 2012 - 7:18pm

Obama is doing nothing more than continuing the corporate agenda that all of the previous administrations have done. This is not an ideological issue or it would only be brought up by one party or the other. GW Bush tried to force user fees through the ENTIRE time they were in office. Why do you think they kept putting off the FAA re-authorization. They then passed the ball to Obama who then obediently continued the corporate agenda that they left on his desk.

We have one party - the America, Inc. party of which we the people are given the illusion of choice between two and they are all accountable to America, Inc.

The airlines have been working since the late 50's to dominate the skies and squelch private flight and they won't stop until they do. It isn't just about user fees - it is about killing GA altogether and they have done a marvelous job. GA has been reduced to a cottage industry of aircraft production, especially in the piston market. Development and certification all but stopped cold when the FAA came into existent in order to promote commercial aviation.

Just a crying shame what is going on right in front of our noses and there is NOTHING that we can do about it.

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R. Randall Padfield
on March 2, 2012 - 4:02pm

Crighton,

Your point–“it is beyond stupid to create a new tax mechanism when all that needs to be done is to raise the already in place tax on aviation fuel”–is exactly the point I made in my December blog “Aviation User Fees? No Thanks?”.

As simple as this solution would seem, nobody–including the presidents of NBAA and GAMA–has ever been able to give me a solid reason why simply increasing the fuel tax would not work, just kind of vague explanations about how the airlines would that accept it and politicians do not want to appear to be advocating increasing taxes. User fees are apparently not perceived as the stealth taxes that they are.

Randy Padfield, AIN Editor-in-Chief

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