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Thu, Jul 27, 2006

NBAA Joins Other GA Groups to Signal Unified Opposition to User Fees

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen joined leaders from several other general aviation associations Tuesday in a united front against the creation of new aviation user fees.
Bolen and the other association leaders participated in a forum hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) focusing on a proposal by the Air Transport Association (ATA) to shift $2 billion of the airlines' costs onto the general aviation segment through the implementation of user fees. The ATA is the lobbying association for the commercial airlines.

"Shift costs, control the system -- that's at the heart of the ATA's proposal," Bolen said. "The ATA would like everyone to believe that all 'blips' on an air traffic controller's radar screen are the same, so all aircraft in the system should be treated and charged equally. This is in spite of the fact that respected figures in government and industry have repeatedly concluded that it's the airlines, and their hub-and-spoke networks, that drive the costs of the aviation system.

"Here's the bottom line -- user fees are a form of tax, and if we're not vigilant, the ATA will tax users out of the system," Bolen continued. "They will also do everything possible to take Congress out of the equation when it comes to managing the air traffic control system. The ATA believes Congress is part of the problem, but the general aviation community understands that Congress is needed to ensure that communities across the country have access to the strongest aviation system in the world."
The EAA's user fee forum was conducted amidst the association's annual AirVenture Convention, held on the grounds surrounding Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI. A large audience, including representatives from several media organizations, was in attendance.
The issue of user fees for aviation has arisen because a multi-year package for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding and programs will be considered next year by Congress. The ATA is looking to this "reauthorization" process as an opportunity to shift from the traditional way the FAA has been funded to one based on user fees. General aviation currently contributes for its use of the aviation system through fuel taxes, which are simple to pay and efficient to collect, and serve as an effective proxy for use of the aviation system by general aviation aircraft.
The AirVenture user fee panel was moderated by EAA President Tom Poberezny, and included Bolen, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Phil Boyer, General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce, Cessna Chairman and CEO Jack Pelton, and Cirrus Co-founder and CEO Alan Klapmeier.



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