When 23-year-old Barrington Irving needed flight handling and fuel sourcing for his 26,800-mile flight around the world, Universal Weather & Aviation chairman Greg Evans offered to donate his company’s services. Irving, who founded nonprofit Experience Aviation to promote aviation careers, flew a modified Columbia 400 with 160 gallons of usable fuel, departing from Miami on March 23 and returning on June 27.
With stark differences between House and Senate versions of FAA reauthorization bills working their way through Congress, some industry and congressional insiders see little chance of an agreement before September 30, the day when current taxes and fees that support the FAA expire.
NBAA, the New York Aviation Management Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association have lobbied the New York state legislature to review aviation taxing procedures, with an eye toward eliminating the current tax on fuel and services. New legislation has been proposed, known as the New York Senate Aviation Industry Tax Cuts Proposal. The new rule would eliminate the business tax on all jet fuel and 100LL effective next year.
American Pilot Services, a new second FBO at Carroll County Regional Airport north of Washington, D.C., is offering visiting aircraft operators the opportunity to buy fuel at a discount without having to negotiate a price or work with a contract fuel provider. By signing up with American Pilot’s tiered frequent fuel program, operators earn discounts that grow according to how much cumulative fuel they have bought.
The House Transportation Committee’s attempt at an FAA reauthorization and funding bill has received praise and backing from general aviation interests, but they warn that the fight for passage without user fees is far from over.
General aviation and its allies continued the political infighting with the airline lobby over user fees last month, firing salvos at an Air Transport Association (ATA) airport-shown television ad that portrayed GA–especially business jets–as the culprits behind airline delays.
The light-airplane segment of the general aviation industry is showing evidence of contracting, but it is too early to determine whether this is a trend that will continue or whether the segment will turn around. General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) statistics for the first quarter show that deliveries of piston-powered airplanes dropped 7.7 percent over the first quarter of last year.
Despite heavy lobbying by general aviation groups, a promising effort to have the concept of user fees for ATC services stricken from the Senate’s version of an FAA reauthorization bill failed narrowly in mid-May by a 12-11 vote.
Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, and ranking member Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) are expected to introduce an FAA reauthorization bill this week to counter one the Bush Administration released in February.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey continued her pitch for a new revenue stream for her agency during a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce early last month, comparing a Gulfstream IV flying from Teterboro Airport (TEB) to the Tampa, Fla. area to an airliner operating between New York La Guardia Airport and Miami. The FAA’s own N1–in which the Administrator often travels–is a GIV.