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Airborne's Annual April 1st Episode

Fri, Apr 01, 2011

Babbitt Mulls Fees For Low-Time Pilots

Money Collected Would Offset Fuel Taxes Not Paid By Pilots Who Don't Fly Regularly

ANN April 1st Special Edition: FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is reportedly considering tacking a surcharge onto renewal fees paid by pilots. The surcharges would be based on the number of hours a pilot flies in any given year.

Due to decreasing revenues to the federal government, and because the President and Congress has asked all government agencies to come up with ways to not only save money, but to also increase revenues, the FAA has developed this fee scale for nearly ALL pilots, most of them holding GA-related certificates and ratings, with different annual renewal fees dependent upon ratings and endorsements and hours flown each year.

In an internal memo forwarded to ANN, the Administrator proposes a registration fee structure that begins with a basic registration fee of $20. For pilots logging from 0 to 99.9 hours annually in the previous calendar year there will be a $100 surcharge each renewal period. The FAA says the surcharge is intended to offset the revenue from Federal aviation fuel taxes that the pilot did NOT pay by not flying at least 100 hours during the previous year.  all pilots, for the first time, will not only have to renew what was previously a lifetime certificate and pay annually, but will also have to keep a logbook and make entries for each flight to avoid the additional fees.

For pilots holding advanced ratings (beyond S.E.L. etc), the fees will be similar. However, Babbitt notes in an internal memo that all flight hours will not count in the hours requirement for this section of the new regulation.  For instance, in addition to paying for your S.E.L. rating every year, if you have an Instrument Rating, there will be an additional $10 annual charge for that rating as well as an additional surcharge of $100 if fewer than 10 hours of actual IFR flight are logged.  These 10 hours will count towards your annual total flight hours, but an Instrument Rated pilot could find him or herself in a situation where he or she flew 200 hours in a calendar year, but of them, only 9.5 were IFR, and is assessed an additional $100.

Pilots who fly aircraft which run on mogas or other alternative fuels will also be assessed additional fees based on any STC on file with the FAA. Those will be in addition to the low-time surcharge. Sport Pilot fees begin at $10 for basic renewal, and the first surcharge is $50 for those flying under 100 hours.

EAA President Tom Poberezny called the proposal "just about the stupidest thing I've seen come down the pike since since Orville and Wilbur knocked together that first airplane in shed in Kitty Hawk in December." NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said the new fee structure is "simply outrageous! The monitoring will cause nightmares for pilots AND will be hard to prove if the FAA ever audits you as an individual pilot." However, several iPhone and iPad apps are reportedly already in development to automatically track your flight time and push that data to a federal government server.

For those who determine they are unable to afford the fee structure, the FAA does make a provision for terminating your pilot certificate privileges. Fees for termination, which are irrevocable, begin at $50 for Sport Pilot, and increase based on additional ratings and endorsements.



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