Will Fuel Type Determine Who Pays User Fees?

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Before entering a debate it's always helpful to get the terminology straight. When it comes to the possibility of metered user fees for non-commercial aircraft, the Department of Transportation, the airlines, business aviation and the piston crowd seem to have different views on just who should be included in the fee-paying group. Are business aircraft also general aviation aircraft that should be excluded from fees? Should single-engine air taxis be considered fee-paying commercial aircraft? "If they're talking about user fees on general aviation, they don't know what they're talking about," Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta told a House Appropriations Committee hearing last Tuesday morning. "I've seen the press stories, as has everybody else. But what is before [Office of Management and Budget] has no user fees imposed on general aviation." But what exactly is general aviation? Mineta made the comments after the Air Transport Association issued a statement calling on the DOT to scrap the current ticket and fuel tax system and to apportion the costs based on time spent in the system. The ATA says that will cut up to $2 billion in costs from the airlines and distribute them to other users of control and navigation services who are getting a subsidized ride at the moment.