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Fri, May 04, 2007

FAA Rebukes Group's Claims Against Funding Plan, Part Four

Agency Says Experience Shows User Fees Do Not 'Kill' GA

In a telephone conversation with Aero-News last week, representatives with the Federal Aviation Administration rebuked many of the points presented by the Alliance for Aviation Across America, in that group's rebuttal to the FAA's policy document released April 23 on the subject of user fees. Over the next several days, ANN will present those arguments, and the FAA's contrasting position on each issue.

  • Read Part One Here
  • Read Part Two Here
  • Read Part Three Here

As Aero-News reported, the overriding theme of the Alliance's argument against user fees is that such systems have wrecked havoc for private pilots everywhere they've been implemented before, including Canada and throughout Europe. That is a view also shared by such general aviation letter groups as AOPA, NBAA, and EAA.

FAA Economist David Weingart maintained the facts don't support those claims, however.

" We cited in our fact sheet a study by mbs Ottawa, and three universities -- Syracuse University, MacGill, and George Mason University -- that studied user fees in 10 different Western countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Canada," Weingart said. "They found that there was either an improvement, or a neutral impacy on safety, modernization, service quality, cost control, financial stability and the public interest."

When ANN asked about the impact user fees had on the number of private pilots in those countries, Weingart cited an interview with the president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association, on the business aviation community's views on NAV CANADA -- the privatized ATC system in place in that country.

"Basically, he says the CBAA members are quite satisified with the system, they get value for the money they're putting into it, and he doesn't think many of the CBAA members want to go back and revisit the issue of user fees or NAV CANADA system," Weingart asserts. "So we think there's some evidence there that in Canada, certainly, that GA is satisified with the system up there."

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown then related the experience of an FAA pilot who flew from Washington, DC down to Florida, for the recent Lakeland Fly-In.

"By flying a [Cessna] 182 down to Sun 'N Fun, his only additional cost for the trip -- if he would have been operating under our proposal -- would have been around six dollars, for the increased fuel tax," Brown said. "That isn't much different than the increases we've seen in fuel costs overall."

"The FAA's position is that overall, the user fees should have minimal impact on GA, because they're only paying air traffic user fees if they fly into a large hub airport," Weingart adds "Most GA pilots will never see a user fee."

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