Aviation User Fees The Hot Topic This Summer

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EAA is predicting that the final form of the FAA’s reauthorization bill will be hammered out in contentious conference committee meetings this summer because the House is contemplating a package that differs fundamentally from the direction the Senate appears to be leaning on the user-fee issue. Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee defeated, by a single vote (thanks to tie-breaker Ted Stevens, R-Alaska) an amendment that would have scratched the $25-per-flight “modernization surcharge” that is proposed for turbine-powered aircraft. A floor vote is still pending on the full package. But EAA says the House appears much more sympathetic to anti-user-fee sentiments and now is the time for members to be contacting their elected officials, in both arms of the government, to reinforce that opposition. EAA’s Doug Macnair says it’s not the $25 fee that’s important, it’s the establishment of a billing and collection system to administer the fee that is critical to the debate. “It is clear to us that the implementation of any user fee system, regardless of who it targets, would set a dangerous precedent,” said Macnair. “The temptation by FAA and Congress to increase the breadth of these fees in future budget cycles, casting an ever wider net to raise additional revenue, would be overwhelming. We cannot stand for that.”