Weaken Resistance, Divide and Conquer?
At the Tuesday forum, AOPA President Phil Boyer said his group, which represents more than 400,000 pilots, will be lending its considerable political clout to the effort, even though he's been told it's not his fight. He said that at debate between himself and Airline Transport Association President Jim May. May said piston-powered aircraft would be exempt from the user fees (which in speculated form hit a mark closer to business jets) and the vast majority of AOPA members unaffected. Boyer said he didn't take the bait and AOPA will continue to fight fees that, at least for now, shouldn't affect most pilots, but would be a firm step in an unwelcome direction. Boyer went through a long list of fees imposed on pilots in other countries and said it's sucking the life out of general aviation. Until recently, the fees have been prevalent in far-away places like Europe and New Zealand but a development in Canada has brought the issue closer to home. Until last week, GA operators in Canada have been required to pay a flat $72 annual fee to gain access to all services provided by the non-profit private aviation services provider, Nav Canada. Last week, the Canadian Transportation Agency upheld Nav Canada's request to impose daily user fees on GA aircraft landing at Canada's seven largest airports. Boyer said the Canadian experience proves that once user fee systems are in place, they eventually trickle down to general aviation.