May 22, 2013 - General aviation is wearing the target as the FAA looks for revenue, with the agency appearing to be readying a plan to add burdens on recreational aviators with increased costs for a variety of activities. This is occurring even after the Congress enacted legislation that enabled the FAA to fully fund air traffic services.
The agency is moving more aggressively toward assessing costs on duties that have always been covered under the FAA budget, including some essential air traffic operations and functions.
For instance, the agency is asking EAA to cover certain costs for its AirVenture operations, including air traffic controllers' travel, per diems, and overtime, which had traditionally been covered by the FAA. This may be an early indication of further efforts by the FAA to charge GA operators for functions in ways that could add unforeseen costs for the average pilot who simply wants to enjoy flying.
"This issue is significantly bigger than AirVenture," said EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton. "We'll have full air traffic staffing and operations at Oshkosh and are well-prepared for our event. Unfortunately this is coming at a great cost to EAA. The larger issue, however, is about the unknown and alarming new direction the FAA is taking in charging for an equivalent level of safety that has previously been provided. If the FAA asks for reimbursement on certain AirVenture operations for which it has always budgeted, where else could the agency unilaterally impose assessments, fees, and other costs on GA? It's a frightening thought."
EAA and other aviation organizations agree that GA should continue to contribute its fair share to FAA and national airspace operations through the current aviation fuel tax. EAA will, however, vigorously oppose efforts to burden aviators with costs for which the FAA already receives funding and has budgeted as part of its stated mission of providing a safe, efficient national airspace system.