Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Phil Boyer on Wednesday told the House Ways and Means Committee to continue to fund FAA through fuel taxes instead of switching to a user fee-funded system.
At a hearing during which House transportation committee members and other aviation industry leaders also testified, Boyer told the committee members that "H.R.2881 gets it right." H.R.2881 is the House version of an FAA funding bill. It would keep airline passenger taxes the same and modestly increase general aviation fuel taxes to ensure robust funding for airports and money for air traffic control modernization.
The Department of Transportation Inspector General and Government Accountability Office have testified that the current funding system provides enough money to fund modernization, but the airlines support a user fee system because replacing fuel taxes with user fees would result in a tax break for them.
FAA funding and aviation taxes are the "largest issues to face our members in the last two decades," Boyer said. He reminded Congress that AOPA members were their constituents, and that pilots paid aviation taxes "directly out of their pockets."
Even with the proposed fuel tax increase, Boyer told the committee that the system of excise taxes "seems to be the fairest way and most efficient way" to fund the FAA.
"Our message is simple," Boyer concluded. "H.R.2881 and its taxation recommendations is what our members support."
The Transportation Committee sets the overall policy and spending limits for the FAA; however the Ways and Means Committee has the authority to set specific taxes to fund air traffic control modernization, airport improvements, and FAA operations.
The 413,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has represented the interests of general aviation pilots since 1939. General aviation includes all flying except the scheduled airlines and the military. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. pilots, and three-quarters of the GA pilots, are AOPA members.
August 2, 2007