The call to FBOs to make prices easily accessible online was released by AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association.
Although aviation fuel prices are largely available online, many airport and FBO fees are not. AOPA has investigated and is fighting egregious and often unknown FBO fees restricting access to airports. AOPA found most of the country’s FBOs have reasonable fees and effectively facilitate pilot access, but at the most-complained-about locations—often those with a monopoly position FBO—pricing practices often adversely affect access.
FBOs are encouraged to post fees on AOPA’s airport directory (aopa.org/destinations), which is used for flight planning by thousands of pilots every month. AOPA is working with industry leaders to develop a simplified online template of fees and will host tutorials on how to load and update fee data in the airport directory.
But FBO fee transparency is voluntary and new to the industry, and pilots should expect some information to be incorrect or incomplete as FBOs, electronic flight bags, and other aviation businesses adopt the “Know Before You Go” best practices.
Duncan Aviation posted its fees online in an “FBO Services Calculator.” Troy Hyberger, FBO services manager for Duncan Aviation’s Lincoln, Nebraska, location, said, “We agree that transparency in pricing is important in FBO services.“We have listed our fuel prices and potential ramp fees on the internet for some time. This app takes that even further by allowing operators to calculate their exact invoice.”
Wisconsin Aviation President and CEO Jeff Baum said, “AOPA certainly recognizes free enterprise’s right to set its own prices and that the aviation businesses have a right and need to earn profit. However, when the prices charged deter people from using publicly funded airports—and especially when these fees come as a surprise—something needs to be done.”
The largest FBO provider in the world, Signature Flight Support, has posted fees for piston aircraft at most locations, and the company has told AOPA it is working to make jet and turboprop fees available online soon.
AOPA, along with other general aviation advocates and airline pilot groups, raised objections to a proposed FAA study aimed at assessing drug use among pilots by anonymously collecting and testing their urine during physical exams.
In a letter to the FAA, the groups expressed their opposition to the study and requested that it be shelved, writing: “Collectively, we strongly contend that the study: 1) is fundamentally flawed and will not accomplish its stated goals; 2) does not comply with applicable legal requirements; 3) represents a waste of valuable time, money, and limited resources; and 4) will further erode trust between the pilot community and the Office of Aerospace Medicine.”
The FAA study comes in response to an NTSB safety recommendation, that the agency assess the use of drugs among flying pilots not involved in accidents and compare the results with pilots who died in aviation accidents. The pilot groups call on the NTSB to rescind that safety recommendation, which was put forward after post-accident autopsy reports suggested an increase in traces of medications and drugs found in pilots, even though the causes of the accidents were not medically related.
The groups are calling for the FAA to focus its resources on educating pilots about harmful drugs identified in toxicology reports, point them to safe alternatives, and not waste limited resources on a nationwide, multiyear drug study.
AOPA is hopeful that the FAA will abandon the study and refocus its resources on outreach, communication, and education—areas in which we can partner and work with the agency to achieve improvements to aviation safety.