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FAA funding and general aviation taxesFAA funding and general aviation taxes

AOPA FAA Funding Debate

FAA funding and general aviation taxes

On February 14, the Bush Administration released its proposal for changing the funding mechanism for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The "Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007" is no valentine to general aviation, but it certainly is a sweetheart deal for the airlines.

This proposal is nothing more than a cynical attempt to shift FAA costs to a different set of taxpayers, and to take control of the agency away from Congress and put in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and airline executives. It doesn't save money, and it doesn't make the FAA more efficient. This bill would be disaster for consumers, general aviation pilots, and all the communities—ignored by the airlines—that depend upon general aviation for safety, commerce, and air transportation. Our government is backing away from the safest and most efficient air transportation system in the world, and setting in motion the steps toward privatization.

AOPA President, Phil Boyer

In short, here's what the administration proposal would do:

  • Raise general aviation gasoline taxes 366 percent to 70.1 cents per gallon (jet fuel is increased from 21.9 to 70.1 cents per gallon)
  • Allow the FAA to impose user fee charges on GA aircraft flying in Class B airspace
  • Allow the FAA to charge landing fees at some 215 airports
  • Charge the airlines user fees, instead of taxes, and reduce the amount the airlines pay to the federal government
  • Create an airline-dominated board to help set user fee rates and run the air traffic control system
  • Allow the FAA to set fees and spending with no recourse to Congress or the courts. (View the text of the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007.)

This isn't about blips, or funding, or whether individual pilots pay enough. It's about creating a radical new way to pay for government safety services and turning control of safety over to private industry. It's about cost, safety, and freedom. It's about preserving general aviation and the freedom of average citizens to fly for business and pleasure.

AOPA President, Phil Boyer

The issues

  • Does the FAA need more money?
  • Is the current tax system "broken"?
  • Who should pay how much towards FAA costs?
  • Who controls the airspace system-Congress or the airlines?

The players

The FAA and Department of Transportation

want user fees to "match revenue to costs," to eliminate congressional controls on what they spend, and to charge pilots directly for FAA services.

The big airlines

want to shift some of the costs to support the FAA onto GA, and they want to control the air traffic control system and access to "their" airspace.

The White House

wants to take FAA funding "off budget" by charging user fees to free tax revenue for nonaviation uses

General aviation

wants to preserve a robust aviation system that is the envy of the world and that serves all citizens, not just the wealthy.

The timeline

Congress must take action by October 2007, as the existing authority to collect aviation taxes on fuel, passenger tickets, and air cargo waybills will expire.