FAA Forecast Conference hints at future user fees
NOT ON OUR WATCH! AOPA's Boyer responds
More than one billion airline passengers. More than 750,000 pilots flying more than 240,000 general aviation aircraft for almost 33 million hours. That's the future for 2015, according to the FAA's two-day Thirtieth Annual Forecast Conference in Washington, D.C. But the GA forecast "assumes that general aviation activity will not be subject to new user-fees or limited access to airports and airspace," say the FAA statisticians.
Wait a minute. Did somebody say user fees?
Well, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told the conference, "I'm not at this point advocating user fees." On the other hand, when speaking about the new flight service station system at AOPA Expo just five months earlier she said, "The FAA does not support a fee-based system. I don't know how to be any clearer than that."
But yesterday she also said, "Our workload goes up, our revenue goes down.... We need a revenue stream based both on our costs and on our actual units of production." Then she gave the very short list of countries that don't charge for the actual cost of air traffic control services. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and other politicians speaking to the conference also talked of the need for a "new revenue stream" for the FAA.
"The possibility of user fees being imposed on general aviation and privatizing air traffic control are among the highest concerns of AOPA members," AOPA President Phil Boyer told the media, lawmakers, and government officials at the conference. "Many believe user fees would destroy general aviation as we know it in the United States."
AOPA knows what its members think because the association regularly polls them. The most recent survey accurate to within four percentage points was completed within the last five weeks. "We regularly ask our members what's on their minds, what's important to them, and that gives AOPA its marching orders," said Boyer.
"And the members are very clear NO USER FEES! We've heard them. And you'll continue to hear from us," Boyer said. "We'll work to help make the FAA more efficient. We'll work for sufficient and equitable funding for the FAA. But it won't be user fees on general aviation pilots!"
March 18, 2005