Alaskans know general aviation, better than anyone else. As AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a video address to the Alaska Airmen's Association on May 5, Alaskan lives "quite literally depend upon the single- and twin-engine piston aircraft that are the majority of the general aviation fleet."
Boyer's weekend address to the annual convention outlined the pending FAA funding legislation in Congress, and the effects that the user fees in the FAA's bill and a competing Senate bill would have on GA. Alaska pilots know that significantly higher taxes and user fees on any segment of aviation would ultimately harm smaller aircraft.
More than 1,700 of them said so this weekend, signing a petition to their representatives in Congress stating, "There is no place for user fees for flight in the air traffic control system on any segment of the aviation industry in the world's largest, safest, most efficient air transportation system."
The Alaska airmen said that excise taxes were the best way for all aviation users to support the system. They also said that Congress must continue to exercise oversight of the FAA and not allow it to become a monopoly with the sole power to set its budget and the fees charged to aviation system users.
In his speech to the convention, Boyer said that pilots nationwide were facing the most serious threat to GA "since the lawyers almost killed us 15 years ago with product liability lawsuits."
Boyer said the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act was a "killer," designed to make "general aviation pay more so that the airlines could pay less."
Meanwhile, a bill just introduced in the Senate, the Aviation Investment and Modernization Act of 2007, is "better than the FAA's version," Boyer told the Alaska pilots, but any turbine-powered aircraft would see its gas tax nearly doubled and have to pay what amounts to an IFR user fee of $25 per flight.
"Once a fee enters our funding system, I can see it escalating to our other forms of aviation transportation," Boyer said.
Boyer told the Alaska pilots that when the time was right, AOPA and the Alaska Airmen's Association would be calling on them - as well as pilots in the lower 48 states - to take action by contacting specific members of Congress with a targeted message.
May 7, 2007