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GA Community Again Unites Against User Fees

Administration signals on issue not positive

January 19, 2012 - A united group of GA organizations are continuing their action in response to signals from the Obama administration that it plans to push ahead with future proposals to assess user fees on private aviation. Late last week, the administration's reply to an online petition asking the White House to "Take Aviation User Fees Off the Table" caused alarm, as it appeared to reaffirm a coming push to assess new fees. Dana Hyde of the Office of Management and Budget responded to the online petition, which attracted 8,900 digital signatures since September. Such petitions initially filed at the White House's "We the People" website needed at least 5,000 signatures to cause a replay from the administration.

"We have concluded that a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service," Hyde said in reference to air traffic services, including piston-powered aircraft in controlled airspace.

EAA, AOPA, GAMA, NATA, NBAA, and others are gearing up for another battle against user fees that could be in future budget and appropriations bills. Although Congress over the past decade has consistently rejected such GA user fees, regardless of the party in control, Hyde's response indicated that the Obama administration was ready to make another push for passage.

EAA's government relations office acted quickly after learning of the White House response. Doug Macnair, EAA's vice president of government relations, contacted leaders of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus in regards to the issue and the dire ramifications of user fees on GA. Even a proposal that would exempt piston-powered aircraft is dangerous, according to Macnair, because it allows user fees to become a part of some GA operations and foreshadows fee expansion in the future.

"Although Congress has rejected the user fee concept again and again, it seems that the idea keeps reappearing," Macnair said. "GA already has a fair way to pay its share of the slim segment of air traffic services it uses, called the fuel tax. EAA will continue to work to prevent any of these additional burdens and bureaucracy from landing on GA aircraft owners and operators."

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