DOT Inspector Report Finds GA “Materially Contributes” To NAS Congestion

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On March 3 the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation quietly released an audit on the use of the National Airspace System (NAS)—and the general aviation community is quietly taking notice. The audit, initiated by then Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., found that “air carriers and non-air carriers, including general aviation and business jet operators, all make sufficient use of the NAS so as to materially contribute to FAA’s costs and congestion in general.” Non-air-carrier traffic accounted for up to 30 percent of the peak-level instrument approach operations at the New York TRACON in 2005, according to one example in the report, though GA used fewer center resources overall.

The report also concluded that the current fuel tax structure does not accurately reflect how the NAS is used. “The current tax structure groups jets used for non-commercial purposes with general aviation piston engine airplanes, although they are taxed at different rates. However, those jets are likely to have more in common (in terms of NAS usage) with commercial jets, which are taxed differently,” the report states. A spokesman for the National Business Aviation Association told AVweb that NBAA is reviewing the report and has asked to meet with the inspector general to discuss it. The report acknowledges that the structure of taxes on business jets “has become a lightning rod in the debate regarding how to finance the FAA,” noting that FAA does not track business jets as a separate user group.