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ATC Fees: EAA Cuts Its Losses

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If there’s an aviation version of realpolitik, we saw it on Friday when EAA announced it’s caving in to FAA demands that the association pay for air traffic services at AirVenture. This decision will be bitterly disappointing for many members, while others will just accept it as the cost of doing business and an inevitability. It’s no secret that some of us in aviation think we should pay for such extended FAA services such as those at AirVenture and Sun ‘n Fun.

I’m not among them, so mark me down as disappointed. While I’m not philosophically opposed in principle to special interests paying for what they use, what the FAA is doing at AirVenture (and Sun ‘n Fun) is basically a protection racket and government malfeasance under the guise of being strapped by its own regulations. Here’s why: Despite the fact that Oshkosh is a contract tower, the FAA has heretofore insisted that only it can provide the overflow services that AirVenture requires. And since they do this the FAA way, that means about twice as many bodies as a private contractor would require to do the same work and hence EAA, and by extension, its members, get stuck with a bill of over $400,000. This has been described as paying for the same services twice and that’s exactly what it appears to be for reasons I’ll get to.

If there’s any bright side to this sordid mess, it’s that EAA extracted from the FAA an understanding that if it can find a better deal in the future, it can pursue that with FAA support. Furthermore, the agreement stipulates that EAA will be involved in oversight and reviews to control costs related to ATC services. But is this a hollow victory? In the very next sentence in EAA’s announcement, Jack Pelton said he doesn’t see contracting the AirVenture ATC services as viable for the foreseeable future. Foreseeable is a long time or at least through 2022.

Now for the realpolitik part. It’s obvious from the detailed question section that EAA provided that the good fight we thought EAA had engaged in with the FAA was evolving into a suicide mission. EAA’s petition for relief in the U.S. Seventh District Appeals Court, regardless of its merit, placed AirVenture 2014 in jeopardy. And that’s only four months away. In its statement, EAA essentially said it most needed stable, predictable services so it negotiated the best deal it could and got a long-term agreement. Honestly, I can’t say I’d have done any different. At some point, reality rules.

Many smaller airshows in the same circumstance were hoping EAA’s larger resources would carry the day in their behalf. Not gonna happen. If any of those airports have towers now and need additional services for an event, they’ll either have to pay the FAA or cancel the events. Some will do the latter. Those that don’t have towers should just run like Copperstate does, with no FAA help and an advisory traffic service.  

In the current poisonous political environment, the notion that one of government’s jobs is to provide basic infrastructure for safety and economic growth has been lost. Air traffic control is basic infrastructure. It’s completely misguided to say that at AirVenture, ATC is for the pleasure of a spoiled bunch of rich hobbyists flying their airplanes into an annual summer bash. For the Oshkosh area alone, the regional governments estimate an impact of more that $100 million a year which translates to jobs and economic growth.

And for hundreds of companies, at a time when the industry has been in the tank for almost six years, AirVenture represents a critical part of their marketing and outreach plans. More investment, more jobs, more growth. GA, as an industry, shouldn’t have to apologize to anyone nor be overcharged for infrastructure the government is supposed to provide. Although we can’t put numbers on it, it’s probably true that user fees have a far greater chilling effect in lost business—including taxes—than anything the government might hope to recover in levying them. For the dwindling few in GA, the psychological effect alone is enough for many to pull the plug.

What should have happened? First of all, I am skeptical of EAA’s claim that a full-up contractor couldn’t provide ATC services at AirVenture or couldn’t do it more cheaply than the FAA. I don’t have the numbers so I guess I have to give EAA the benefit of the doubt, but it doesn’t pass the smell test. When I spoke to George Cline of AirBoss—a contract company—a year ago about this, he said his company could staff the show and do so economically. He reaffirmed that today. In the aviation press, we’ve fallen into the habit of writing isn’t-that-amazing stories about all the pink-shirted controllers at OSH and perhaps the resulting hagiography implies that there has be scores of them to make it work. But times change. Insurance might be an issue, but events riskier than AirVenture get insurance, so I’m not buying that as a showstopper.

What it would really take, then, is someone in the FAA with the will to make this work rather than the usual knee-jerk reaction to find ways that it won’t. That would mean beginning from the premise that EAA would find its own contractor, determine its own level of services required, negotiate the price and have the FAA willingly standing by to provide assistance at every step, including issuing the temporary tower operator certs and other details.

Maybe that’s where EAA sort of ended up with its current agreement. But to make it work in spirit, someone in the agency would have to own the AirVenture challenge and be its undying champion. Of course, idiotcracy in government doesn’t work that way. They don’t have rainmakers; they have bureaucrats who hand things off to other bureaucrats who just retired or transferred to the next big three-letter cash cow program.

What was so inspiring about EAA’s decision to take this to court was the sheer, hell-for-leather audacity of it. Finally, here was an alphabet with a bone in its teeth. While I fully understand the decision EAA made and I’ll remain a loyal member—and you should, too--it sure would have been nice for at least something in aviation to end with a roar rather than the way it always does, with a whimper.

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Comments (59)

I'm kind of in the 'reality' camp - I don't think it's right or fair, but agree with EAA that cancelling Airventure would be much, much worse. I'm sure they want a little more time to review their options, but am willing to bet a private contractor will be handling the event over the next year or so. This year, I just can't see what else EAA could have done.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | March 23, 2014 6:57 AM    Report this comment

"Why come to an agreement after being so adamant last summer about this assessment for ATC services?" "It's not personnal Sonny, it's strictly business".

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 23, 2014 8:24 AM    Report this comment

"I have never been to Oshkosh (Sun & Fun closer and less hectic) that said, but how than does/did the "Fed" (FAA) establish a $400K+ expense/budget, assuming that this is right $$ number for the added personal required by EAA/Air Venture?

IF the "average" FAA communications employee receives even $100/hour and you have, say 10, ADDITIONAL staff members, that would EQUAL (7 days-18hrs/day?) ($100 x 10 X 5 x 18 ) = $126K - OK, now lets DOUBLE that for the FAA's sake, and we still have only $262K! That's about $138K LESS that the $400K+ "cost" by; "OUR way, or the runway" - Washington ---sters - talk about extortion!

Posted by: Rod Beck | March 23, 2014 11:06 AM    Report this comment

I understand the realpolitik element. But I fear that this action will be cited by the Agency as a GA imprimatur on user fees. Once the paradigm has shifted, it never will be reprised.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | March 23, 2014 11:17 AM    Report this comment

EAA at Oshkosh is big business, an annual event - an aviation swap meet - the attendance is large and pricing can be adjusted easily to cover the cost. User fees are a different matter. They are a real threat if allowed to a part of an important flying industry, in decline, that can't afford a greater financial burden. What I see here is a need for everyone to get inside the same tent, unite, to prevent user fees from being implemented. We are a fragmented aviation society, very much detached; we need a massive coalition - forty people complaining in a blog will not prevent user fees.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 23, 2014 12:40 PM    Report this comment

You need a new calculator, Rod. Ten additional staff members? How about 50 or 60.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | March 23, 2014 1:06 PM    Report this comment

Paul; OK - NOW I see (the 10 was a guesstimate!) had NO idea of the added number of personnel would be in the 50-60 range! But still, Paul, how does the "Fed" justify the $400K+ number - curious?

Posted by: Rod Beck | March 23, 2014 1:42 PM    Report this comment

The FAA wouldn't provide us with the actual number last year when we asked, nor would they itemize the expenses. I think EAA eventually got good data on it. A GS pay expert contacted me privately to give a rough estimate of why it added up to that much. Benefits are big part of it. I think they charge an administrative and oversight fee, too.If you knew the details, you'd probably have a stroke.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | March 23, 2014 6:25 PM    Report this comment

There are solid arguments on both sides of the issue. The timing of the initial fee demand so close to last year's convention can only be seen as blackmail. However, AirVenture also makes a ton of money for a private organization. Charging for ATC services is not wholly unwarranted. At the end of the day, this has the terrible taint of an anti-GA mindset that is so very evident in Washington. I understand how and why EAA decided to go along with the fees. I just think it stinks.

Posted by: Bill Leavens | March 24, 2014 7:31 AM    Report this comment

Playing a kind of devils advocate, the FAA should get some kind of a cut on economic benefit AirVenture provides to the economy. In a just world, the Feds would calculate how much revenue increase it gets from local, state and federal taxes from this event (vs if no event happened) and the FAA get a commensurate increase in its budget. Of course, as time went on, their budget would either get cut again, or taxes would increase to cover the budget top line. So in a way, the FAA is just short circuiting this kind of goat rope, and ensuring it and only it benefits from said "tax", and thus its able to apply that money to services for all of us. I think I'd rather have it this way, than a nebulous federal tax, which would be huge (and a tasty siphoning target to politicians) in relation to $500k. Looking at it this way, not only does this seem fair, but seems in our GA best interest.

Posted by: michael anderson | March 24, 2014 8:10 AM    Report this comment

I would think many airshows will be affected by the FAA's Airventure type ATC service fees. Guessing, there's got to be some three hundred airshows per year, some with control towers, the others without, most one day events. Will the FAA now charge for the additional operations enroute to the event. Like for terminal radar approach services?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 24, 2014 9:32 AM    Report this comment

The only card the EAA had left was to cancel the show and blame the FAA. This would have forced the issue out of the narrow aviation interests where it sits now, to a much bigger audience of disadvantaged local businesses who would have howled loudly to every politician. That would IMO have gotten action because bureaucrats hate the glare of unfavorable publicity. Personally I don't think the issue is worth it and so the EAA make a calculated decision and went with the art of the possible. There is good news though, think of how AOPA would have screwed this up......

Posted by: DAVID GAGLIARDI | March 24, 2014 10:19 AM    Report this comment

Perhaps contract controllers could reduce air traffic control costs at AirVenture but maybe not quite as much as you think. It isn't just the controllers at OSH itself. Chicago Center, Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford Approach Controls all put additional radar controllers on overtime to handle the additional enroute traffic load and the increased demand for VFR flight following. They do this in house and do not have to bring in volunteers from other facilities so there are no travel or per diem costs but never the less there are costs involved that a contract operator could not cover.

Posted by: Donald Purney | March 24, 2014 11:06 AM    Report this comment

I was invited to contribute to the PSP ATC planning before the 2012 AOPA SUMMIT. Many hours were spent coordinating ground and air operations with SOCAL TRACON. The city of Palm Springs and businesses gained while ATC shouldered the burden. AOPA did not pay for the extra services. I'd like to know if the "Aviation Summit" scheduled for October of this year is going to be affected as Airventure.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 24, 2014 11:52 AM    Report this comment

This fiasco from the same folks that brought us Obamacare: 1. Continue to charge taxes and fees for mandated services. 2. Issue a "finding" that we "need more" of those government services. 3. Pass a law just before deadline--insuring a "take it or leave it" option (no option at all). 4. Find that private enterprise--the very people that HAVE been taking care of the issue--is inadequate 5. Mandate that ONLY GOVERNMENT services will suffice. 6. Make the user pay ADDITIONAL costs--over and above what they have already paid (fuel taxes enroute to attend). 7. Blame the private companies and the users. 8. Insure that no private company will be approved to provide the services. 9. The net result--more money in the government coffers--and no better service.

Sad to say, but EAA should take a page from AOPA--end the national convention, and break it up into regional events.

Option 2--do as many businesses have done--when the government becomes too restrictive and confiscatory, they put a border between the business and the government. Move to a place like Hamilton, Canada--near Detroit. Canada does charge ATC fees--but not on small airplanes--and fees on large aircraft are minimal for the few miles across the border.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 24, 2014 12:38 PM    Report this comment

"Despite the fact that Oshkosh is a contract tower, the FAA has heretofore insisted that only it can provide the overflow services that AirVenture requires. "

This more than anything else is what bothers me about the whole situation. If we're going to be forced to pay for these additional ATC services (and it will be "we" and not just "EAA"), why shouldn't we be able to choose WHO we have to pay? Probably because if that was allowed, it would set a precedent that maybe the FAA should get out of the ATC business all together, and just pass everything to the contract services. And rarely does government willingly give up duties to the private sector.

As far as canceling AirVenture/Oshkosh goes, I think it'd be a hard sell to make, especially since there is more to it than just the show part. It's a much different situation than AOPA's conventions.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | March 24, 2014 1:13 PM    Report this comment

I don't think that the primary reason that PILOTS go to Oshkosh is to watch an airshow--they are available all over the country. For many of us, when the airshow starts, that's the time to take in the indoor exhibits--when it isn't so crowded.

Sun N Fun has proved that the alternative does work--a regional get-together with exhibitors. From the attendee's standpoint--many pilots I know go to SNF BECAUSE there is more emphasis on displays and exhibitors and camaraderie than on airshows. Oshkosh has become TOO large. You have to ask yourself--"What does OSH offer that SNF does not?" Certainly, it is easier to airline to regional shows than it is to OSH. Cars and hotels are more reasonably available as well.

From an exhibitor's standpoint--yes, it means they have to do several shows--but many exhibitors I know in the trade make the case that they would rather have actual buyers than looky-loos--and would rather have the time to talk to potential customers.

We already have a good start on regional get-togethers--it wouldn't take many more to make a get-together available within one tank of gas most anywhere in the U.S.

Personally, I would rather do as Copperstate does--and let the FAA take their "mandate" back to D.C.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 24, 2014 1:48 PM    Report this comment

" And rarely does government willingly give up duties to the private sector."

The opposite is true. Government rarely does anything without the private sector anymore - FAA tower services are an exception. Even the Affordable Health Care Act has been virtually contracted out completely as a service. It was a private contractor who screwed up the initial delivery of the Act who was primarily to blame for the startup troubles.

And in the military and the VA, it's astounding how many private companies are taking advantage of pricing with the government for goods and services exponentially above their value. Greed and exploitation are available to all, and both sides foam at the mouth over the opportunities.

With a corporate-controlled media, we don't get the straight story on private businesses. And with a Congress that places its own interests over what's best for the nation, we don't get the best government. Choosing sides for one's hatred seems uneducated and biased, imo.

And Copperstate was easy to fly into, but it's much smaller and doesn't attract so many varied aircraft in such huge numbers as AV.

Posted by: David Miller | March 24, 2014 2:48 PM    Report this comment

Everyone,

Here is what seems to be a major omission in our arguments, and in the FAA's calculations.

In my first letters responding to the FAA's first fee proposal (or extortion, really) I pointed out something I still rarely hear.

We have ten thousand aircraft flying into OSH for AirVenture and then going back home. Probably the vast majority of those are either flying entirely VFR and/or using very little in the way of ATC services prior to their arrival at OSH, where the tower clears them.

Bottom line: we have already paid several times over for the ATC services provided in the taxes paid on the large amount of fuel we buy flying the long distances to get to OSH and back home.

It is insane that we should be expected to pay again for the minimal tower services provided on a per aircraft basis. We have already paid the FAA's expenses! And more!

The FAA and EAA should run a survey on the fees collected during the cross country flights to OSH and that figure should be applied to offset the FAA's $400,000 expense. $400,000 divided by 10,000 aircraft is $40 per aircraft. I am surmising that the average fuel taxes paid by participating aircraft in the round trip flight getting to and from OSH is FAR higher than $40. The FAA has already been paid for the ATC services including average en route services, probably several times over.

As near as I can tell the FAA imposed an illegal and unreasonable excess burden on EAA and all the aviation visitors to AirVenture. EAA was put over a barrel and forced to cough up or AirVenture would have been threatened yet again.

I hope we all stand with EAA to insist that FAA retract this insane policy and refund EAA all the money it has paid, and while this is in the works for all of us to help EAA to find more cost effective ATC services, which should also be reimbursed by FAA when this is finally settled.

I work a lot with the FAA and most of the folks are very reasonable and very pro general aviation. There are many good people there.

But in this case somewhere in the bowels of the FAA mindless bean counters have struck again.

Bureaucracy and autocracy run amok!

Posted by: Rol Murrow | March 24, 2014 3:46 PM    Report this comment

It is being made just too damn complicated. It is not a secret nor a conspiracy - it is that the FAA is out to justify their existence. It is a business and we are the customers - or is it users?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 24, 2014 4:15 PM    Report this comment

Does anyone understand "We the People" are whom the government serves, not regulates. How did this get turned upside down? The FAA should be getting their authority from the citizens, not from their concept of Federal Authority. Let the volunteers sign up and handle Airventure. Ignore the FAA if they try to push aside the volunteers. Perhaps the EAA should prohibit the FAA from even attending.

Posted by: Keith Laken | March 25, 2014 1:17 AM    Report this comment

FAA has overstepped its authority.

Posted by: Keith Laken | March 25, 2014 1:22 AM    Report this comment

"I am surmising that the average fuel taxes paid by participating aircraft in the round trip flight getting to and from OSH is FAR higher than $40."

According to wikipedia, the 2011 aviation fuel tax was 19.4 cents per gallon. Using a rough estimate for my Archer, it's about 7 hours flying time from my home airport to Oshkosh. At 9 gallons per hour, that's 63 gallons one way. That equates to about $12.25, or $24.50 round trip. That is actually less than the figured $40/aircraft. Even if the fuel tax has gone up to 25c/gallon, that's still only $31.50 for my aircraft. Whether that $40/aircraft is actually a fair and reasonable amount is debatable, but it is clear that I'm not paying my own way with the fuel tax alone (especially if I'm actually using ATC services along the way).

For what it's worth, I'd still rather pay higher fuel taxes than individual ATC fees.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | March 25, 2014 8:03 AM    Report this comment

Gary, I agree.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | March 25, 2014 10:38 AM    Report this comment

Gary, you have to look at it this way. When Rafael flies his Duke over to Phoenix to pick up bagels, he more than makes up for the piddling fuel burn of your Archer.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | March 25, 2014 10:53 AM    Report this comment

I was as ticked off as anyone at the 2013 "Hey, surprise - here's a bill!" approach, which I still feel was WILDLY inappropriate and almost certainly illegal, and I'm a little sad EAA has effectively surrendered here, but the FAA has a history of charging for extraordinary air traffic services for special events. As long as the costs are itemized (which I assume they are, EAA isn't run by idiots), reasonable (again, I assume they are), and known in advance (which they certainly are under this agreement) I'm not opposed to the charge on principle. The simple fact is that the FAA is providing a level of service well above and beyond "the norm" in supporting AirVenture and handling what is undeniably the world's busiest airport (for the brief time that AirVenture is running anyway), with a wide mix of traffic types, pilot skill levels, and ancillary "stuff" (like air shows) going on. They participate with EAA in planning and distribution of the NOTAM every year, and safely coordinate the many thousands of aircraft movements going on that week, and I doubt we could achieve an equivalent level of safety and efficiency in an uncontrolled environment. (Whether we can do so with a private contractor, as this agreement allows, remains to be seen in future years. It would be AWESOME if EAA could staff the event with volunteer controllers - FAA employees on leave, retirees, etc.)

In all the hollering over "How dare they charge for this?" and "We're already paying for it in taxes!" the community seems to forget that those fuel taxes are already buying us quite a bit: Free IFR in a world where pay-per-approach/pay-per-mile is incredibly common, the contracted weather infrastructure that supports flight planning (through flight service, DUATs, etc), free charts (you can download them through AeroNav) and publications (how many schools use the Airplane Flying Handbook as part of initial training?), free in-flight weather & traffic through ADS-B for those who elect to equip their aircraft to take advantage of it, RADAR/Flight Following for virtually any pilot requesting it, and infrastructure maintenance through the airport & airway trust fund. To expect those taxes to also fund every special event that pops up is a little unreasonable (the FAA has a budget to manage too!), and to single out AirVenture for "free" services because it holds a special place in our hearts would be unfair to other organizations/events.

I may well be squarely in the minority here, but I'm used to that.

Posted by: Michael Graziano | March 25, 2014 12:46 PM    Report this comment

"Special event"? What constitutes a "special event"? Is Sun N Fun "special"? Copperstate? "Thunder on the water" at Chicago? NBAA? Reno? Almost any NASCAR race? Pheasant hunting in South Dakota (don't laugh, FAA has a "special traffic management program" for that). Your next local airshow?

Who gets to decide what is "special" and what is not? The FAA?

We've seen repeated attempts by this current government administration to discriminate against certain classes of aircraft--the proposal for $100 per flight "user fees" for each leg flown by a turbine aircraft. Don't let them get their nose under the tent!

As for all of the other dubious "free" things the FAA provides--"Be glad you don't get all of the government you pay for!"

Posted by: jim hanson | March 25, 2014 1:41 PM    Report this comment

"When Rafael flies his Duke over to Phoenix to pick up bagels, he more than makes up for the piddling fuel burn of your Archer."

True. My point was more that I'm personally not paying for my share of ATC services, though others certainly are (and more than their share).

On whole, the balance probably evens out (if I never use ATC services, I'm subsidizing those who do, but if I always use ATC services, others are subsidizing me), but I can at least understand how some would make the argument that a flat fuel tax doesn't equally split the burden.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | March 25, 2014 2:28 PM    Report this comment

Here's to a humorless world......wonder if I'm paying taxes equitably for roads, defense, schools - ugh, the weeds, the worry of it all.

"Who gets to decide what is "special" and what is not? "

Those who 'feel' special....geez, I thought everybody knew that.

Posted by: David Miller | March 25, 2014 5:39 PM    Report this comment

How about taking on the FAA with its pronouncement that only THEY can provide the overflow services?

I'd like them to show cause. I haven't read anything that "grades" controllers on their ability to control traffic in a non-standard environment. If so--I'd like to see the results of those evaluations.

If contract tower operators are certified to control traffic--then they should be allowed to control OSHKOSH traffic.

How about the military option? The military has a lot of controllers, and most military bases don't have all that much traffic. It would be a good training exercise for them.

How about EAA members that are certified controllers? I'm sure many of them would volunteer to do so on unpaid leave.

It should be remembered that the FAA, in justifying their $400,000 figure--includes a staff of 70 to 80. Make them show cause that they need that many staffers. Of that staff--how many are actually controlling? Could the handoffs at the arrival points not be handled by FSS or contract controller personnel?

Why blindly accept the "party line" from the FAA?

Posted by: jim hanson | March 26, 2014 8:01 AM    Report this comment

Your ideological fight for truth, justice and the American way is quite apparent, Jim, but I don't think anyone blindly accepted the 'party line'. It's just a human, nuanced, levered, favorites played, lawyer influenced power settlement - in other words, maybe a bit sloppy for your idealism.

Maybe you should run for office? Or at least find a corporation to lobby for to have real influence on government. I still insist the people in our republic have all the power - we just keep giving it away to those who will gladly accept it. We're all players, it's the human way.

Posted by: David Miller | March 26, 2014 2:38 PM    Report this comment

Did EAA NOT accept the FAA line that "only they have the expertise to control traffic at OSH?" Paul says that FAA put forth that line--and EAA didn't dispute it.

What is wrong with asking the government to make its case that only THEY have the expertise to control traffic? Why CAN'T military controllers be used? How about using volunteer controllers on unpaid leave? Why NOT make them prove that they need that many fully certified controllers for non-control functions?

Standing up to FAA galvanized the membership last year--rolling over on this issue tells members that it is "business as usual"--the FAA gets whatever it wants. It will hurt EAA membership.

We DO have the power--but only if we use it. So far, I haven't seen anything except EAA choosing NOT to fight for rights--and to simply pass on the $400,000 cost to attendees. That's not power at all--that's simply rolling over and passing the costs on to others. We don't need EAA to accede to FAA demands--most of the country lets government do as they please anyway.

Idealism? You bet! I work with a lot of WW II vets. The common question is "How did we ever get to be this way?" We got here because people simply accepted whatever the government proposed--until they became dependent on the government. It is the one thing that used to set America apart from the rest of the world--and we've let government become the masters through indifference. Why are older people so cranky when it comes to government? Because we knew a time when government wasn't so all-pervasive--and it worked.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 26, 2014 7:08 PM    Report this comment

Jim; Sorry, but don't you know by now those NOT in any form of the business sector/community just haven't a clue how capitalism, a free market and "common cent$" works? NICE REPLY!

Posted by: Rod Beck | March 26, 2014 9:30 PM    Report this comment

I have no answer to refute anyone's insistence on viewing life in a confict dissociative way. If it's always us against them, embrace it. It is never that way for me, ever.

I'm not defending the FAA by any means, but I'm also trusting that EAA did the best they could with what deal was available. If they didn't, and they were pushed around, it was their choice, or if they were bullied, I could care less. The eternal play of power was in evidence again, that's all. Want more influence? Find more power.

"Why are older people so cranky when it comes to government?"

I'm older, too, contract my services with the VA, and can offer countless ways that it works because we make it work, whether 'They' approve of it or not. I don't have time or interest in whiners or old farts who feel entitled beyond their need or ignorantly 'want their country back' because they can't change and cannot keep their hearts and minds open to new, evolving and different realities.

Posted by: David Miller | March 26, 2014 10:07 PM    Report this comment

I don't think that "old farts" feel "entitled". If anything, these are the people that endured the Depression (hardly relevant to the whiners today that call THIS a "depression")--took up arms in WW II--went quietly back to civilian life and built the greatest economic power on Earth. Their brothers and sons also did their part--having years taken out of their lives due to conscription.

"WHINERS"? I don't think so--not a fraction of the "entitlement class" of today. I don't think you can make a case that these people were "takers" compared to the record number of people on the government dole today. The difference? Those people wouldn't allow government to become as all-pervasive compared to today--it is today's government recipients--not the generations past--that feel "entitled."

As for your "Can't change and cannot keep their hearts and minds open to new, evolving and different realities"--no--I can't and will not accept the pile of dung that the FAA has put before us. You say to "find more power"--then advocate rolling over just because the FAA says so. Hardly a way to make things change.

Go back to my original questions--"Why SHOULDN'T we hold government accountable?" Why SHOULDN'T we demand accountability--rather than simply taking their word that they are the ONLY people that can provide these services? Failure to do so says more about who and what the country has become than any statement by a bureaucrat.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 27, 2014 12:29 PM    Report this comment

I don't think that "old farts" feel "entitled". If anything, these are the people that endured the Depression (hardly relevant to the whiners today that call THIS a "depression")--took up arms in WW II--went quietly back to civilian life and built the greatest economic power on Earth. Their brothers and sons also did their part--having years taken out of their lives due to conscription.

"WHINERS"? I don't think so--not a fraction of the "entitlement class" of today. I don't think you can make a case that these people were "takers" compared to the record number of people on the government dole today. The difference? Those people wouldn't allow government to become as all-pervasive compared to today--it is today's government recipients--not the generations past--that feel "entitled."

As for your "Can't change and cannot keep their hearts and minds open to new, evolving and different realities"--no--I can't and will not accept the pile of dung that the FAA has put before us. You say to "find more power"--then advocate rolling over just because the FAA says so. Hardly a way to make things change.

Go back to my original questions--"Why SHOULDN'T we hold government accountable?" Why SHOULDN'T we demand accountability--rather than simply taking their word that they are the ONLY people that can provide these services? Failure to do so says more about who and what the country has become than any statement by a bureaucrat.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 27, 2014 12:29 PM    Report this comment

What we have here, is a failure to communicate! Couldn't resist...

I don't want to go back 5 minutes, let alone 50 years. Everything is better to me, including transparency and accountability in government and the private sector, than it was in the past. Valuable information at my fingertips, greater freedoms for those past persecuted, safer cars and airplanes, better health outlook - good grief any pining for the past looks downright silly.

Change is hard, if there is resistance to it. Nothing is out of place, all things are exactly as they should be. How could something be different than what it is? That's hindsight, a useless exercise.

Hope you win all your battles and restore your past as you want it to be. Cheers.

Posted by: David Miller | March 27, 2014 3:05 PM    Report this comment

I hope I "win all of my battles" against an uninterested public as well. The country has certainly changed--and not for the better. We've caught what the British call "The English disease"--hidebound and stifling regulations--mountains of useless paperwork--the desire to "bring that bloke down to MY LEVEL" rather than individual initiative--half the country on government assistance of some sort. We got this way through the stroke of the regulatory pen (and the FAA is a good example). The way out is to use that same pen to remove useless regulation.

You say "change is at hand, if there is resistance to it"--yet resistance to over-regulation is exactly what most of us advocate--why not you?

If you think that "transparency and accountability are better now"--what country are you living in? I've been to 78 countries around the world, and I don't recognize increased transparency and accountability--especially in the U.S. From the NSA to Benghazi to Obamacare to the promise that bills will be displayed prior to voting to the original promise by the government that "the airport and airways trust fund will not be used to fund the administration of the FAA" (it's now funding 80% of the budget)--accountability and transparency has suffered.

Back to the original question of why we SHOULDN'T ask the FAA (or the rest of the government) to justify their position--is this a case of "The King can do no Wrong?" You seem unable to reply why we should NOT hold government responsible. There was a time when this country fought a revolution over the same issues--taking on the leading superpower in the world. I guess the people back then were made of sterner stuff--and we've forfeited that legacy due to lack of interest.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 27, 2014 5:40 PM    Report this comment

You're fighting yourself, sir, it's very common in my work. All of the obstacles are of your own creation, phantoms to distract you from true freedom. That's simply all I can say to end this. Namaste.

Posted by: David Miller | March 27, 2014 8:35 PM    Report this comment

Bureaucrats destroy economies. Just try to be a small business owner in Europe. We need to get legislation passed that forces through cost-benefit analyses of all regulations, and final decisions made by a impartial panel, not the regulators.The FAA estimates the cost of compliance with AD 2014-05-29 (replacement of SAP cylinders) at $14,150,000, but no word of the benefits. We need to fight bureaucrats with tooth and nails.

Posted by: Attilio Di Maco | March 27, 2014 10:29 PM    Report this comment

Now, there's no need for derogatory name-calling, Rod. Jim did just fine with his vocabulary, I understood him clearly.

Posted by: David Miller | March 28, 2014 1:32 AM    Report this comment

FOUR TIMES in this series, I've asked why FAA (and government in general) should NOT be required to "show cause" why other, cheaper options wouldn't work. Four times--no answers--and the FAA is unresponsive as well. Must be a trait that government apologists have in common.

Even more vexing than government unresponsiveness is the someone actually DEFENDING the fact that we must accept what the government dictates.

Has anybody ever looked at how aviation is conducted (more aptly described as NOT CONDUCTED) in the rest of the world? High government regulation--high taxes--and very little general aviation as a result. It seems as though this nation is headed down the same failed path--and there are those who think we should blindly accept it.

Fortunately, they are in the minority when it comes to aviators--but they are in the MAJORITY when it comes to the public at large. This is what we've become.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 28, 2014 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Rod, I removed your post. We're not going to tolerate name calling in this forum.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | March 28, 2014 12:29 PM    Report this comment

Stunning, actually. I'm back to only defend the accusation.

Other than, 'I don't think anyone blindly accepted the 'party line'' and 'I'm not defending the FAA by any means, but I'm also trusting that EAA did the best they could with what deal was available' , I have looked to find where I was saying anything resembling the fact ' that we must accept what the government dictates.' I cannot. And I would not.

Others have, but I haven't. Through your posts I noticed you do not answer questions directly or ever give someone the benefit of the doubt in understanding. Maybe you can make an exception here?

Please show the post or line of association. If you can find it, I will happily address it.

If not, I do hope one day you may find the realization of the necessity of duality in the world - that all things have two sides of relevance, positive and negative, one might say. Actually, they are both necessary for balance. Even with regulations from the government.

Attitude and Attention.

Posted by: David Miller | March 28, 2014 1:43 PM    Report this comment

Paul and other readers; No "name calling" - if you recall. I deliberatively DIDN'T name anyone - that was left up to the interpretation of readers to figure it out! Just so happened the "post" was made right after Mr.Hanson's reply. Frankly, seems to me many folks need MORE Comedy Central!

Posted by: Rod Beck | March 28, 2014 3:58 PM    Report this comment

Dave says "Please show the post or line of association. If you can find it, I will happily address it."

I offer the following. In no case do you advocate resisting the "party line" that the FAA put forth in claiming that only THEY can provide the services that THEY believe we "need." Not one statement questioning the need for regulation.

Dave says--"I have no answer to refute anyone's insistence on viewing life in a confict dissociative way. If it's always us against them, embrace it. It is never that way for me, ever." "Conflict dissociative"--doublespeak for "Don't make waves--don't buck the system."

Dave says--'I'm not defending the FAA by any means, but I'm also trusting that EAA did the best they could with what deal was available"

Dave says--"I do hope one day you may find the realization of the necessity of duality in the world - that all things have two sides of relevance, positive and negative, one might say. Actually, they are both necessary for balance. Even with regulations from the government."

Where is your own "duality" and recognition of the fact that the FAA has consistently refused to provide justification for their actions? I'll ask for the FIFTH time--why SHOULDN'T the FAA be required to justify their actions?

Posted by: jim hanson | March 28, 2014 7:22 PM    Report this comment

For those that advocate simply having EAA pony up the $400,000--who do you think REALLY is paying the $400,000 to feed the FAA's perceived needs? Hint--it's the attendees and exhibitors--in other words, YOU. EAA will have to add fees to registration--booth space--camping fees, etc. Make no mistake--YOU pay.

We pay taxes to the "Airport and Airways TRUST Fund" just to get to Oshkosh--then are asked to pay again when we get there? It would be like traveling on an Interstate Highway (financed by fuel taxes)--only to find that there was a toll booth at the exit in addition to all of the taxes paid.

There are those that think that "it only comes to $40 an airplane for each airplane attending." Try putting a $40 landing fee on each attending airplane--by the second year, there would be no need for additional controllers--fly-in traffic would be little more than that experienced by contract towers.

For those who think that it is "no big deal" to add additional fees by simple government fiat--note that the numbers of campers has risen almost every year--people are forsaking their airplanes in favor of arriving by car--not unlike the European model. Go to a European air show, and you'll find a relative paucity of planes--and a lot of people that would LIKE to fly--but can't due to the high cost of flying in Europe--caused entirely by government regulation, taxes, and fees. Let's not go down that road.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 28, 2014 7:59 PM    Report this comment

"In no case do you advocate resisting the "party line" that the FAA put forth in claiming that only THEY can provide the services that THEY believe we "need." Not one statement questioning the need for regulation."

Right. That was EAA's job. Paul's post of 3/23 at 6:25 showed me EAA was on top of the situation in their negotiations, as best they could be. Evidently I missed the memo to comment further.

"Where is your own "duality" and recognition of the fact that the FAA has consistently refused to provide justification for their actions?"

I wasn't privy to the details for both sides, so my involvement in the yin and yang was non-existent.

So.. we're left with the seed, the essence of this strange trip you have taken me on. Which is :

" I'll ask for the FIFTH time--why SHOULDN'T the FAA be required to justify their actions?"

I... don't... know..., because they don't want to? They didn't feel like it? They were arrogant? Tired? Angry? They do as they please as long as they see they can get away with it? No one at the negotiations asked?

How in the world would someone like me, who wasn't there, be able to answer your question? So why do you keep asking it???

You have an unusual hatred for government, Jim, that frankly, is a bit frightening - I would want to see you at least twice a week. (And Rod, maybe three...)

Please try to allow others their space for their beliefs and opinions. You'll be much happier after the shock wears off.

Posted by: David Miller | March 28, 2014 10:32 PM    Report this comment

You seem to forget who is supposed to be working for whom. Government is supposed to be the servant of the people--not the other way around.

It is REASONABLE to ask people that demand money from you to explain why they want to take your money.

It would be REASONABLE to ask why someone that asks to be paid twice for the same service to explain why.

It would be REASONABLE to ask someone where they think they have the power to make their unfounded assertions that there are no alternatives to the one they propose.

OR--people could just roll over and comply with whatever the government dictates--Rex non potest peccare--"The King can do no wrong." That may work in the rest of the world--but that's not how in works in the U.S. That submission to authority "Just because they say so" is a hallmark of Europe--and look what it has done to GA in those countries.

I don't think there are many in EAA or the rest of GA that agree with you--thanks for advocating an alternate position as seen from your world.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 29, 2014 5:59 PM    Report this comment

"You seem to forget who is supposed to be working for whom. Government is supposed to be the servant of the people--not the other way around."

What is this, third grade? As one who has worked for the VA since the 70's, I have never lost sight of the setup. I counsel deluded, withdrawn, angry and horribly abused vets alike that our government sent to fight some far off war. Some we can help to success, some leave this world despite all of our efforts. We do the best we can with what is available.

And that is what the blog surmised about what EAA faced with the FAA. Sometimes you have complete success, sometimes a compromise is necessary. The FAA apparently wielded a strong arm - and - EAA made its decision to make the best of it, negotiating what they could. End of freaking story. There is no more. All of the rest of your philosophizing about what should have been done, what could be done in the future, regrets, losses, the country is going to hell, Europe, good grief, Benghazi?, the weak-minded populace, etc., are nothing but tangential ranting.

I commented on the blog's subject. You hijacked the bog for your own, selfish rant and refused to stay on topic. You don't think I was aware of that? But I'm done playing. Either use power the correct way, to conquer yourself and become free of all the crap you are a slave to, or, excuse me, righteously bothered by, and get off my case. Sometimes medicine is bitter as hell.

Posted by: David Miller | March 29, 2014 8:03 PM    Report this comment

Gents, this is spinning out control here. Politics occasionally intersects with aviation and you're free to comment on this. However, you are both making it personal and I am asking you to cease and desist.

Keep it civil, please.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | March 30, 2014 4:28 AM    Report this comment

Paul--this would be a good subject for a poll for Avweb readers. Ask the question--"Was EAA correct in acceding to the FAA demands?"

I believe this is going to hurt EAA. There were enough T-shirts and signs last year at the convention stating "This isn't over!". Members were heartened by EAA's being willing to take it to court--and their hopes for a revitalized EAA were dashed with this announcement.I haven't found one member in the upper Midwest that isn't disappointed with EAA for agreeing to pay the FAA.

Take the poll further than "Yes/No". Give response options on whether it will/won't hurt EAA--whether the respondents would/wouldn't be willing to pay extra charges for admission/camping/vendors. The results will be interesting.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 30, 2014 10:07 AM    Report this comment

I hear you, Paul.

"Was EAA correct in acceding to the FAA demands?"

Correctness? Who defines the idea of correctness? Would love to know that answer.

Besides, it's a pedestrian, irrelevant issue when considering a major negotiation between large groups. I can't think of an important meeting at the VA that wasn't watered up or down, sacrifices made and taken, deals under and over the tables, to get a program going or, more importantly, to affect something valuable in the future. All the while, using each other to get the most out of that planning. Everybody knows the game and how to play it.

Will this hurt EAA?

Only if the members allow it. And why in the world would we want to sabotage the ongoing efforts of the EAA? I'd be happy to sit with each disgruntled member in the upper Midwest and see just how they are individually helping or hurting the cause. It's one thing to talk big, rail about injustice, be temporarily disappointed, quite another to do nothing but complain about it.

The disappointment has been registered. Member's can weep, fight, and wallow in their sadness and frustration, or get busy creating and working to help EAA and GA stay viable. Excuse my bluntness, but either put up or shut up.

Plenty for you to word police there, Jim. Have at it.

Posted by: David Miller | March 30, 2014 7:02 PM    Report this comment

No need for word police.

It really comes down to EAA member's satisfaction or lack thereof about caving in to FAA's demands.

There will be some like yourself that don't care. There are others like myself that are disappointed with EAA's broken promise expressed at last year's convention (were you there?) on signs and T-shirts that said "This isn't over!".

EAA can't help but be hurt. For those that don't care, they will continue to attend, pay dues, and pay the fees. For those that feel that EAA broke an implied promise and caved on the issue, they will not attend, or cease paying dues--a return to the past administration policy. I guess we saw what most EAA members thought of THAT strategy.

" get busy creating and working to help EAA and GA stay viable. Excuse my bluntness, but either put up or shut up." One of the main reasons EAA and other alphabet organizations exist is to resist the heavy hand of the FAA and other government regulators. Resisting those ill-advised edicts IS making EAA and GA viable. Collaboration with the FAA in user fees hasn't worked here--or anyplace else in the world. Standing up to the FAA is "put up." Collaboration is "shut up."

Posted by: jim hanson | March 31, 2014 10:27 AM    Report this comment

'No need for word police.'

And the entire last paragraph?

'There will be some like yourself that don't care.'

The ability to manage disappointment well can show a high regard for something. You cannot possibly know my level of concern. Just as I cannot possibly know your level of disappointment.

'Resisting those ill-advised edicts IS making EAA and GA viable. '

Of course it does. But when a deal must be made for the benefit that EAA sees as more important, that is making it viable also. There can be strength in both resistance and compromise, depending on the circumstances. User fees is an example where it has not worked.

'Standing up to the FAA is "put up." Collaboration is "shut up."'

I've proven that wrong countless times with the process of building my homebuilt and the ensuing relationship I was required to have with the FAA. I am a success story with my dealing with government at all levels. I am very sorry you struggle so. It is a choice, you know. Goodwill to you.

Dave

Posted by: David Miller | March 31, 2014 1:27 PM    Report this comment

Let me know your opinion of the FAA when you have been flying for 50 years--have 48 years in the FBO business, have run 6 airports, a part 135 operation with 3 turbine and 9 piston airplanes, and owned 542 airplanes over the years--yet have never had a violation or an accident.

The secret to getting along with the FAA is to demand the respect deserved from them. Somebody that has been in the business even longer than I have had the right attitude--"Nobody respects a doormat."

You mention that "user fees is an example that has not worked"--yet you advocate ACCEPTING user fees for air traffic control--without justification from the FAA--and advocate that EAA and its members do that as well.. Hard to square that statement.

I guess we'll just see what the effect is on EAA membership--after all, they are the only ones DIRECTLY affected. The rest of us, however, WILL be affected if user fees are allowed to exist via this back-door policy.

Posted by: jim hanson | March 31, 2014 4:09 PM    Report this comment

You didn't mention that the Superbowl didn't have to pay anything for their additional services. The FAA managed to come up with an "explanation" for that one, showing once again that money talks.

Posted by: Julian Gomez | March 31, 2014 4:28 PM    Report this comment

Good point, Julian. Along that line, how about the political conventions, with all of that traffic? Any time the FAA has an "air traffic event"/reservations, can we expect charges for "overtime"? We're talking political conventions, airshows, NBAA, NASCAR races, Final Four, Bowl games, and even South Dakota pheasant hunting--all have reservations and special air traffic procedures.

The alphabet groups have spent a lot of time and money fighting user fees--acceding to FAA demands at this point would be inconsistent and negate that--telling them "We will accept this--just this once" (OK, make that "we will accept that, but only for the next few years").

Posted by: jim hanson | March 31, 2014 4:39 PM    Report this comment

And I thought only hair and nails grew after death...

I have not given an opinion of the FAA, only of the EAA on this blog's subject.

"Let me know your opinion of the FAA when you have been flying for 50 years--have 48 years in the FBO business, have run 6 airports, a part 135 operation with 3 turbine and 9 piston airplanes, and owned 542 airplanes over the years--yet have never had a violation or an accident."

Actually, if I had all of that experience and still was feeling victimized, frustrated and helpless by the very things I was experienced in dealing with, well, let's just politely say I would be feeling quite the opposite of bravado.

"The secret to getting along with the FAA is to demand the respect deserved from them."

Interesting choice of words. 'demand' for give and 'deserved' for desired. About says it all, I reckon.

Again, I wish you peace.

P.S. I not trying to get the last word, honestly. There are just too many corrections to be made, that's all. :)

Posted by: David Miller | March 31, 2014 6:50 PM    Report this comment

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