EAA Agrees To Pay
Thursday, EAA finalized a one-time agreement with the FAA that will assure air traffic control services for the 2013 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in at a cost to EAA of nearly $450,000, but according to EAA Chairman Jack Pelton, "This isn't over." Pelton has described the FAA's position as "holding AirVenture and GA hostage this year." The FAA, acting under budgetary constraints created by the sequester, this year must cut more than $600 million from its budget, this fiscal year. It determined in May that the cost of supplying a full complement of 87 air traffic controllers and supervisors at AirVenture will be $447,000 and that cost is EAA's to fill. Under the deal signed by EAA, the FAA will accept partial payment prior to the event with the remainder to be paid after the show. In a statement released Thursday by EAA, the organization said, "EAA maintains that this equates to the imposition of GA user fees without Congressional approval." The organization is seeking a policy reversal from the FAA.
In response to EAA's concerns, 28 U.S. senators have signed a bipartisan letter that demands an immediate reversal of the FAA's position. According to Pelton, "AirVenture and other GA events are pawns in the larger sequestration political standoff." He is calling for the support of pilots, EAA members, and aviation enthusiasts "to counter the FAA's stated policy of expanding these financial demands on the nation's aviation events in future years." According to Pelton, the FAA's intransigence on the issue created a lose-lose scenario for EAA. It meant that the only remaining course of action would have been to cancel this year's AirVenture after exhibitors and vendors had already committed millions of dollars to he event. Although it has now signed an agreement with the FAA and controllers will be on hand, EAA has included a letter stating that it signed the contract "under protest." EAA will continue to seek other solutions.