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Pelton Explains Process, Rep. Petri Weighs in on ATC Agreement
March 27, 2014 - EAA Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton conducted an EAA webinar on Tuesday during which he explained the circumstances and background of the FAA's charges for air traffic control services at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, as well as the steps that led to the recent agreement between EAA and FAA that ensures air traffic control services at the convention through 2022.
Pelton described what he called FAA's "2013 Surprise" that began the process.
"In approximately April or May of last year prior to AirVenture, the FAA contacted me and said that they had just charged Sun 'n Fun for their event," Pelton opened, "and in order for us to hold AirVenture in 2013 and have the air traffic control support, and also get the necessary waivers and exemptions that are required for us to have the event, we would have to enter into a service agreement with them."
Pelton then walked participants through the timeline leading up to the recent agreements, including EAA's initial response, legal petition, and Rally Congress appeal. After thoroughly exploring all available options, including hiring contract controllers, EAA ultimately concluded that there was no other option than to enter into the agreement and live to fight another day. The hour-long session included a Q&A period.
In a related note, U.S. Representative Tom Petri (R-WI), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued comments late last week in support of EAA and its decision, but remains doubtful that the agency has the authority to assess charges for ATC costs. Rep. Petri's district includes the Oshkosh area.
"At the end of the day, the EAA felt this was the best course of action, and I support them in this decision," Petri said in a statement. "It was certainly not the best outcome possible, but it does give the organization and the general aviation community certainty that AirVenture will continue.
"I continue to question the FAA's authority to charge EAA for the costs of AirVenture and other air shows or special events, but I'm glad this moves things forward for the time being as we look for a more permanent resolution," Petri said.