...As Reason Prevails
Meanwhile, the Reason Public Policy Institute, a libertarian think tank that has proven influential in some D.C. circles in recent years, released a report last week on the issue of funding the nation's air traffic control system. The institute has long been a supporter of user fees, but now has backed down somewhat on the argument as it pertains to GA. The new report recommends that piston-powered GA aircraft pay only the aviation fuel tax, and no user fees at all. "We think [the report] still misses the point," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "GA shouldn't be charged for a system we don't need and for the most part don't use." Boyer added that more than 90 percent of piston-powered aircraft flights are VFR, yet every one of those flights still helps pay for the system they are not using, through the fuel tax. "If it weren't for the huge demands the airlines place on the system with their rush-hour scheduling, the air traffic control system would be much smaller," Boyer said. In a 1996 report, the Reason Foundation suggested charging fees to GA pilots, such as $9.27 for a weather briefing, $4.65 for contacting a tower, and $9.27 for an IFR flight plan. AOPA soundly criticized that report.