AB48 – CALPILOTS Response

Read the letter to Bureau for Private Post Secondary Education against the inclusion of California Flight Schools and Flight Instructors under BPPSE regulatory control. This would be bad for general aviation in the state and will no doubt cause flight school closure.

Date: May 28, 2010

To: Bureau for Private Post Secondary Education (BPPSE)
c/o Joanne Wenzel – Staff Services Manager III
1625 N. Market Blvd., Suite S 202
Sacramento, California 95834

Subj: AB48 – Removal of BPPSE exemption for flight training facilities

I am writing you on behalf of the board, and the statewide membership of the California Pilots Association, regarding the ill advised removal of the BPPSE exemption for flight training facilities in the new implementation of AB48. We are officially requesting that this letter be entered as stakeholder feedback in the public record on AB-48.

The California Pilots Association is a non-profit public benefit California Corporation formed in 1949. The mission of our statewide volunteer organization is to promote, preserve, and protect the state’s general aviation airports in support of the state’s pilots.

We are disappointed with the stealth technique used in the elimination of the flight school training exemption, secretly adding flight schools to this bill. Further, we are shocked at the proposed fees associated with this bill, and the complete disregard for the welfare of the fragile general aviation industry in the state. Frankly, the fees listed below are unreasonable, unnecessary and unfair to general aviation and the state’s associated businesses.

– Application Fee               – $5,000 – Each additional location                – $3,000

– Annual Fee per location – $1,000 – Five (5) Year Renewal Fee           – $3,500

– In addition to the fees listed above, all facilities must also pay an annual fee equal to” three- quarters of 1 percent of the institution’s annual revenues derived from students in California, but not exceeding a total of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) annually.”

A quick review of these fees leads to obvious questions. Was there any consideration given to the administration cost to the flight school businesses? How can BPPSE justify $5000, as well as the rest of these excessive fees? And, when did the state government start to require a percentage of annual business revenues – and at what cost?

We believe that the inclusion of aviation flight training in AB-48 will become a financial and bureaucratic disaster for the state’s flight schools, flight instructors, and general aviation. I can assure you that the aviation businesses, pilots and aircraft owners in California are fed up with the ever escalating taxes, poorly disguised as user fees, which are the basis of the proposed funding of AB-48. Clearly, this fee structure is an attempt to fund more bureaucracy – which is the last thing the state needs given its bankrupt fiscal situation.

While we understand the requirement to protect flight students who might be required to pay for flight training in advance, this bill is akin to using a sledgehammer to insert a pin. It is common sense not to pay 100% in advance for services not yet rendered.

The state cannot legislate commonsense, and it must not punish and damage an entire industry due to the dishonest dealings of a few individuals. Nor can the state force fit these unique individual flight training environments into the traditional brick and mortar class room model with which BPPSE is most familiar. Frankly, in our opinion, including aviation flight training in AB48 is an unnecessary and massive over reaction to an unfortunate past situation. This simply should not have happened had reflection of the dynamic nature and relatively small size of most flight schools, along with the federal based flight training criteria which is already in place been considered. The issue here is that it clearly was not.

It is obvious this decision was made without any stakeholder (general aviation) involvement. If stakeholders had been involved the bill’s author(s) would have been advised that the majority of the flight training facilities this bill affects cannot afford these excessive fees, or their associated bureaucratic processes. The majority of flight schools, and all independent flight instructors, are low volume, low profit businesses – they are not the high tech high volume training academies BPPSE is familiar with.

It is appropriate to educate all on the reality of the issues associated with the elimination the flight training provider’s exemption from BPPSE regulation. Here are the major points:

  • Many of the state’s flight schools will close. It is that simple – they cannot afford it.
  • If BPPSE is interpreting AB-48 in a way that will require it to regulate all flight training providers regardless of size – then independent flight instructors will cease to exist statewide.
  • With a diminished number of flight schools and independent instructors gone, the state’s 70,000 pilots will be unable to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration Regulations (FAR’s) which require every pilot to complete an annual or semi-annual flight review.
    • Our flight schools and flight instructors are critical to the statewide aviation businesses referred to as Fixed Base Operators (FBO’s) and are a critical link to additional flight training and the growth of state air commerce. FBO’s are the largest contributors of tax revenue on general aviation airports. Tax revenue growth will be lost.
    • Aviation generates state tax revenues in the amount of $250,000,000 annually – 72% is allocated to local government and schools, 23% to the General Fund, and (a mere) 5% goes back to support state aviation infrastructure. AB-48 will cause irreversible harm and reduce these revenues as flight schools close their doors, further harming general aviation and state tax revenues.

      It is the California Pilots Association strong recommendation that the state re-institute the flight training provider’s exemption from BPPSE regulation. We believe that there are simple, commonsense regulatory steps that can be taken to protect California students from predatory training providers that will not overly burden the vast number of flight training facilities that provide quality instruction to their students.

      Respectfully Submitted,

      Edward Rosiak

      President – California Pilots Association

      Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
      Rep. Roger Niello
      Aircraft Pilots and Owners Association
      Caltrans Division of Aeronautics
      National Air Transport Association
      National Business Aircraft Association
      Experimental Aircraft Association
      CALPILOTS Board and Membership

      Posted in