AOPA’s Boyer Discusses User Fees at Oshkosh

Here are some scary numbers: $30 for a flight service station “consultation,” plus an additional $5.31 for each forecast product used. That’s the general aviation reality in the United Kingdom. How about $1.50 per minute for a flight service briefing in Germany? Or $1,000 for a private pilot knowledge test in the Netherlands. “In my situation, it’s actually cheaper to fly the whole family by airline to the United States, rent an aircraft for about 30 hours, and have a nice two-week vacation (including hotel and rental car costs) than flying the same amount of hours in Europe,” wrote an Austrian pilot to AOPA President Boyer. In New Zealand, the wife of a pilot tells of how her husband complained about the expense of getting a briefing and filing a flight plan. He was killed in a weather-related accident. He’d skipped the briefing and hadn’t filed. “That’s the reality of user fees and their impact on general aviation around the world,” Boyer told an Oshkosh audience Tuesday. “That’s what it could mean to all of you if we allow the user fee camel to stick its nose under the tent here in the United States.” AOPA joined forces with leaders from EAA, the National Business Aviation Association, General Aircraft Manufacturers Association, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Cirrus Design Corporation to present a forum on the very real threat of user fees for general aviation. See AOPA Online. The following day at Oshkosh, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey talked about FAA funding.

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It was the first time that the two biggest players in aviation?AOPA and the Air Transport Association?appeared together on the same stage to talk about future FAA funding. AOPA President Phil Boyer and ATA President Jim May argued their organizations’ positions on user fees Monday before the Florida Airports Council annual conference in Ft. Myers. And May told the mostly general aviation audience what he thought they wanted to hear. “I’m here to declare victory to Phil,” May told the audience of airport managers and executives. “The airlines don’t support user fees [long pause] for general aviation piston-engine aircraft.” “Jim and I agree on many things,” Boyer responded, “but we have a fundamental disagreement on two things: user fees of any kind, and the necessity of congressional oversight of the FAA.” First, there is the “camel’s nose under the tent” argument. “User fees for some will inevitably lead to user fees for all,” Boyer said. “It’s happened everywhere else in the world.” See AOPA Online.

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