A senior AOPA representative recently spoke about general aviation and aerial work at an informational session with nearly 20 transportation experts from embassies from around the world. The meeting of the Aviation Assembly, held at the embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C., was an opportunity to explain the current general aviation system in the United States to the aviation officials and express AOPA's position on the current debate over air traffic control user fees.
After explaining AOPA and its mission, Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs, underscored that GA aircraft are essential to the U.S. economy. "Two thirds of the world's general aviation/aerial work aircraft are located in the United States," said Cebula, "and nearly 70 percent of flying is business related."
"General aviation also includes medical evacuation, disaster relief, and other lifesaving missions," said Cebula. "It is also a vital tool for small business owners as well as large corporations."
At the meeting, Cebula covered the current debate on how to finance the FAA, explaining that it is currently funded through an efficient system of taxes on aviation fuel, airline tickets, and general tax revenues. But the FAA wants that to change through a system of user fees and increased taxes. By October 2007, Congress must extend the current system, approve a new system, or approve a combination of the two.
AOPA's position is that Congress must maintain its role in management and FAA oversight, and the current system of aviation excise taxes through the federal budget process is the best way to do that. The association strongly opposes a user fee-funded system.
"If Congress were to approve a user fee-funded system in this country, we could expect a huge decline in the GA community, being literally priced out of the sky," said Cebula.
Using information obtained at the IAOPA World Assembly last year, Cebula presented the facts about user fees in other countries.
In the Netherlands:
Countries represented at the meeting were: Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Commission.
February 9, 2007