Some bad ideas have a way of turning up again. User fees for general aviation are one such bad idea.
Proposals to charge pay-as-you-go fees for use of the National Airspace System have taken many forms over the past several years. The latest is a White House proposal to charge a $100 fee on many flights in controlled airspace or that involve the use of ATC services.
User fees would be disastrous for GA. This type of funding structure has already been implemented in a number of other countries, and it has stifled GA in every case. Changing from the current, simple, easy-to-administer system of fuel taxes to a user-fee system would require a new federal collection bureaucracy. And once user fees are imposed, they can be raised by federal regulators without a vote from Congress.
User fees face widespread opposition: AOPA and a broad coalition representing all aspects of aviation have spoken out against these new charges, and members of Congress have told the president that similar proposals would be a non-starter. As pressure to reduce the deficit increases, though, GA can’t take it for granted that this bad idea will be rejected.2 3