...Amid Safety Concerns And The "Bureaucratic Nightmare"...

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Considering that GA represents just 2 percent of the contributions to the Trust Fund, they were pretty well represented at yesterday's hearing. AOPA President Phil Boyer told the subcommittee that a user-fee system would denigrate safety. "A piecemeal system of fees and charges gives pilots a direct financial incentive to avoid using the safety features and programs provided within the National Airspace System," he said. National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James Coyne told the committee that user fees could be more trouble than they're worth. "A system of user fees could add greater confusion and inefficiency to the air transportation system, cause a bureaucratic nightmare for both government and industry, jeopardize safety, and ultimately result in less revenue," he said. NBAA President Ed Bolen agreed, saying that the current fuel-tax system is fair and easy to use. "There are no forms to fill out and no checks to mail. There is just a simple transaction at the pump." Coyne also cited safety concerns. "One of the leading causes of general aviation accidents is unintentional flight into poor weather. A user-fee system would discourage small operators from using the very air traffic control services that could help keep them flying safely," he said. Boyer also made the point that general aviation is not what drives the FAA's costs. "A National Airspace System designed solely for general aviation would look vastly different and cost much less than the current system," Boyer said. Excise taxes on aviation fuel are the appropriate way for general aviation to help pay for the aviation system, not user fees, he concluded.