Will Pay $447000 to FAA In Two Payments
I can't say that this was unexpected but EAA has confirmed that it has entered, reluctantly, into a one time agreement with the FAA to pay them for services required to conduct the annual fly-in.
EAA has revealed that, "Facing a spectrum of unpalatable options, EAA today finalized a one-time agreement with the FAA to cover nearly $450,000 in expenses related to air traffic control services at the 2013 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in, which begins on July 29."
EAA Chairman, Jack Pelton, adds that, "Let me be clear: We have consistently regarded the FAA's move as holding AirVenture and GA hostage this year. There was considerable, detailed thought given over the past month to every option and possible scenario. Ultimately, AirVenture's importance to the entire general aviation economy and community, as well as to EAA's year-round programs, was the overriding factor in our response. AirVenture will go on, and our attendees deserve nothing less than the best air safety and services we can provide."
"As far as we're concerned, this isn't over. We entered this agreement only because there was no other realistic choice to preserve aviation's largest annual gathering. We also look forward to FAA's leadership coming to Oshkosh this year to personally explain their policy to the nation's aviators."
EAA has noted that they signed the agreement 'under protest,' and admits that, 'Failure to sign with the FAA would have meant cancelling AirVenture, which would have been catastrophic for EAA's year-round programs. The agreement allows for a partial payment of the $447,000 total bill prior to the event, with the remaining sum to be paid after the FAA has completed its AirVenture duties at Oshkosh.'
EAA was up against a wall in this matter... having received first warning that the FAA intended to levy these fees barely a month ago -- fees which many consider to be user fees and/or triple taxation (in that FAA receives monies from both the general fund which comes from our income taxes, as well as the fuel taxes the industry pays, in addition). Failure to agree to FAA's extortionate demands could have spelled the end of the association in that this year was already well-organized, pretty much paid for, and many contracts were on the line that could have subjected EAA to extraordinary liabilties. Further; the FAA held one other major threat over EAA's head... "...refusal of FAA services or not meeting the agency's standards would have caused the FAA to void the necessary waivers that are essential for Oshkosh air operations during the event."
Simple fact... EAA had no choice but to take FAA's terms or face extraordinary, if not irreversible, damage. The FAA has sunk to a new low... and their behavior in this situation reeks of questionable behavior that should be investigated by criminal authorities.
ANN will update this story as more details emerge...