The Friday before AirVenture is supposed to be a really exciting time with friends gathering from all around the world to come hang out for good times and a week of spouse-numbing airplane speak. We’re actually hosting the Plane Crazy Down Under guys at our home in Chicago and it’s been great to connect with people we’ve known only as voices from another hemisphere. Luckily David Vanderhoof from the Airplane Geeks arrived to keep the US contingent in balance. But a discussion we had just this morning over breakfast about how the crushing user fee structure has annihilated general aviation industry in Australia was eye-opening. The Airplane Geeks are planning an entire show soon to talk about it, because it’s THAT critical to keep flying as we know it.
This year, AirVenture has a massive stormcloud hovering nearby … just close enough to realize it’s there, but not yet upon us (and no, I’m not talking about those Wisconsin thunderstorms). The topic is user fees – yes, again – for all aspects of business and general aviation. When I wrote about this a few months back as an idea hiding in the wings, I actually was hoping I was wrong. I guess I wasn’t.
And this time, user fees are not simply an agenda being shoved at us by another piece of our own industry the way the airlines came at us a few years ago. This time it’s coming from the folks we sent to Washington to represent us.The reason’s clear. The nation’s in debt up to it’s ass and politicians are looking to pounce on someone group that can ante up some cash … and most likely not fight back too hard. And this time, general aviation is squarely in their sights.
To add insult to injury, we have a president who clearly has no idea what this industry does or how many hundreds of millions of dollars of machines aircraft builders like Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft and Gulfstream send overseas. Actually to be fair, they may not know OR they may simply not care. Our DOT Secretary Ray LaHood is going to be pretty useless as well in case you’re wondering if there might be any support there. The fact that FAA had to furlough thousands of employees the other day simply adds insult to injury proving yet again that the folks in Washington are clueless.
Nope, this time it’s up to us and I really do mean each and every one of you reading this post. The NBAA, GAAC, EAA, AOPA, GAMA and NATA have all risen up with a single voice to condemn this goofy idea. If we’re going to stop air traffic controllers from being turned into “tax collectors” you need to help or face the prospects of what the folks in Australia say passes for general and business aviation there. And it’s not pretty.
Now it’s our turn. Drop what you’re doing after you read this story and follow the guidelines provided by NBAA. First, dial this number. 877-727-5074
“Once you dial the number, you’ll receive confirmation that you have reached NBAA’s Legislative Action hotline. You’ll then be asked to enter your postal zip code, so that you can be matched with your Representative and two Senators.”
Tell them you’re going to make it simple. “No user fees … period.” Tell them we’re willing to listen to other ideas, but user fees will kill an industry that’s one of the few still solidly exporting goods.
Enough said. Please start dialing. Then report back with anything you hear form your legislators. Thanks.
Rob Mark, publisher