The confirmation of Phil Boyer, president of the 360,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, to serve on the new FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC) was put in question today when the Senate Commerce Committee did not forward his name to the full Senate. The committee did forward the names of six other MAC nominees.
After close of business yesterday, Senate Commerce Committee staff faxed Boyer an additional three pages of follow-up questions from Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). This is the second set of questions McCain has required Boyer to respond to since the May 4 confirmation hearing.
At the conclusion of today's hearing, Phil Boyer issued the following statement:
"From the key questions, it appears Sen. McCain's biggest concern is his belief that I have misrepresented his position on general aviation user fees," said Boyer. "This misunderstanding turns on the understanding of corporate aviation.
"AOPA opposes all aviation user fees—including general aviation user fees levied against any class of user—because they are inefficient, unnecessary, and a detriment to safety.
"Corporate aviation, whether piston or jet, is part of the general aviation community. I will never play a part in any strategy designed to 'divide and conquer' that community. And don't be fooled. Once user fees hit one segment of general aviation, the rest of us won't be far behind. One only needs to look at what happened in New Zealand to see how quickly a 'no GA user fees' pledge can be broken.
"At the confirmation hearing, Sen. McCain asked me if I opposed user fees on 'corporate' aircraft, and later, on corporate jets in particular. Many AOPA members flying small piston-engine aircraft for personal and business purposes have registered their aircraft under a corporate name. In fact, some 25 percent of the propeller-driven, piston-powered aircraft (approximately 54,000 small general aviation aircraft) are registered as corporate aircraft.
"But looking at the larger issue, user fees are a tax increase, pure and simple. Yet even with the passage of AIR-21, we still have billions of unspent dollars sitting in the aviation trust fund.
"It's clear that the present system of aviation fuel and ticket taxes can raise more than enough to improve airports and fund FAA modernization. And these taxes are much more efficient to administer and collect than a complicated system of user fees.
"Sen. McCain, as chairman, can effectively stop my confirmation to the MAC. However, I hope that we can continue a rational dialogue on the best way to improve our aviation infrastructure."
(See some of Sen. McCain's questions and Phil Boyer's responses.)
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than 57 percent of U.S. pilots, 70 percent of the nation's flight instructors, and 75 percent of general aviation aircraft owners are AOPA members.
June 15, 2000