The other shoe has dropped... long rumored, but only vaguely acknowledged by EAA, the Oshkosh-based organization has decided to fight back less than a month before the advent of the largest aviation gathering in the world.
EAA has confirmed to ANN that they have filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, asking the court to review and provide relief from payments demanded by the Federal Aviation Administration in relation to air traffic control services at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
In its petition, EAA asks the court to stop the FAA from augmenting its congressionally approved appropriation through unilaterally imposed fees on aviation events such as AirVenture. EAA maintains the fees were imposed without standard notice and comment procedure from the FAA, making it procedurally improper and unlawful.
"While we understand the FAA's position and the temptation to augment its congressional appropriation, we naturally don't agree since we believe this approach unlawfully circumvents congressional approval and standard due process," said EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton. "This affects AirVenture and numerous other aviation events throughout the nation in an unauthorized and unjustified manner. That is why we are seeking review, relief, and clarification from the court."
Despite the FAA receiving exclusive authority from Congress in April to internally move funds within the agency's budget specifically for air traffic control services, the FAA told EAA in early May that it would demand a signed contract and payments for air traffic and safety services that had been annually budgeted in the past. Those fees eventually totaled $447,000. Other aviation events throughout the nation were also assessed fees without warning or the standard notice and comment procedure.
As part of the petition, EAA is asking the court to reverse the FAA's decision to seek these payments, as well as the return of fees already paid and other costs incurred.