February 17, 2004
The Honorable W. Greg Ryberg
Senate Committee on Transportation
P.O. Box 142
Columbia, SC 29202
Re: House Bill 4537 (Senate Bill 822)
Dear Chairman Ryberg:
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is the world's largest aviation association representing more than 400,000 members nationwide, including 4,500 South Carolina residents. AOPA is committed to representing the interests of these members in maintaining a safe and efficient aviation system.
AOPA supports the objectives of House Bill 4537, and we specifically endorse two of the bill's primary provisions and urge their approval when your committee considers the legislation:
- Dedicating revenues derived from taxes collected on general aviation turbine fuel to fund aviation improvements, and
- Establishing an aeronautics commission to guide the state's aviation programs.
We encourage the Senate Transportation Committee to approve these provisions when the committee considers the bill.
Because the State Aeronautics fund currently receives the fuel taxes paid by users of piston-powered aircraft, it naturally follows that turbine fuel tax revenues should also be dedicated to these purposes since both piston and turbine aircraft utilize the same airports and facilities. All tax revenues generated from the taxes on aviation services should be used for the enhancement and preservation of the aviation system. AOPA applauds this common sense initiative embodied in HB 4537.
Nationwide, civil aviation has a $900 billion annual economic impact and accounts for 9-percent of the gross national product. In South Carolina it is estimated that general aviation alone contributes more than $340 million in annual economic activity, supporting literally thousands of jobs in a range of industries.
The importance of aviation reaches much further than the pocketbook. Aviation is a supporter of industry, technology, communities, agriculture, medical transportation, banking, personal travel, and of course is used for pleasure flying. Like a system of highways, the state's system of airports require pavement maintenance, enhancements, and engineering studies to ensure the ultimate safety of those aircraft operators and to preserve that airport as a valuable transportation asset for a community.
On behalf of AOPA's 4,500 South Carolina members, thank you for your consideration, and we urge Transportation Committee support for House Bill 4537. If you should have any questions on general aviation, please feel free to contact me at (301) 695-2203.
Andrew V. Cebula
Senior Vice President
Government and Technical Affairs
Cc: Chris Hudson, AOPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Representative