FAA Covers Airshow ATC Costs Under Bill Amendment

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The government would cover the costs of air traffic control and related safety services at aviation events, under an amendment (PDF) to the FAA reauthorization bill that was approved by a Senate committee this week. If approved as part of the bill, the amendment would turn back the FAA's practice in recent years to bill airshows including EAA AirVenture and Sun 'n Fun for ATC expenses. The FAA and EAA had a high-profile dispute in mid-2013 over the agency's decision during sequestration to have EAA pay for controllers working AirVenture that year. After going to court and getting senators on its side, the association in the end agreed to take on the expenses, which amount to more than $450,000 annually.

The amendment says the FAA would provide services out of funds available to it "without the imposition or collection of any fee, tax, or other charge." This would apply to any "aviation event," including smaller shows that had to curtail their fly-ins due to lack of funds to pay for temporary towers. EAA CEO/Chairman Jack Pelton told AVweb on Thursday he's confident the amendment will remain part of the reauthorization bill, which has gained bipartisan support in the Senate. As to whether Congress passes the reauthorization bill in time to put the measure into effect for this July's show, it will be "wait and see," Pelton said. "Once and for all it provides congressional legislation that requires them to provide those services."

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