FAA Mythbusting — Should GA Worry About User Fees?

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Would the FAA's proposed new funding structure force general aviation to pay more than its fair share of the FAA's costs? According to the FAA, that's a "myth." At an "Ask The FAA" session at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., on Friday, the FAA answered questions about user fees and distributed a "fact sheet" that explains the effects of its proposed financing changes on general aviation. The "facts," according to the FAA, are that GA currently drives about 16 percent of the expense of the air traffic system, but pays only 3 percent of the cost. The proposed changes would raise that percentage to 11 percent, with only 1 percent coming from piston-aircraft users. It's also a myth, says the FAA, that the airlines drive the cost of the infrastructure, while GA is only a marginal user. The FAA says it has taken those factors into account in its cost analyses. Will the proposed tax increases "ruin" GA in the U.S.? No, says the FAA. The increased cost would work out to about $500 per year for most piston fliers, according to the fact sheet.

A group of FAA officials answered questions from the audience during the hour-long open session. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was not able to attend, but FAA Southern Region Administrator Doug Murphy led the panel. One airline pilot protested the FAA's slow progress in addressing the age-60 rule, and was told that an NPRM will be issued soon to propose a change to the rule, but "there is a process we need to follow," and it will take time. John King, of King Schools, said user fees for services would jeopardize safety, and was told that pilots would not be charged a fee for anything that would make them safer.