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Needed: Informed Voters

Fact- logic and actuality are lost in the smoke of fiery rhetoric designed to leverage voter misconceptions and biases. Thus we should not be surprised that Business Aviation is a topic in the stump speeches of politicians- opines Jack Olcott.

Jack Olcott   |   1st April 2012
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Needed: Informed Voters
Fact- logic and actuality are lost in the smoke of fiery rhetoric designed to leverage voter misconceptions and biases. Thus we should not be surprised that Business Aviation is a topic in the stump speeches of politicians- opines Jack Olcott.

In this season of political posturing before the U.S. presidential election in November- the public is exposed to considerable distortion as candidates of both parties present the arguments they feel will appeal to voters. A recent example of such political firebrand is the Administration’s inclusion of extraordinary user fees for business aircraft and commercial aviation within President Obama’s budget proposal for 2013—a charge of $100 per flight for turbine-powered aircraft (jets and turboprops) operating within controlled airspace.

Further- the Administration would create a new government entity specifically to collect the $100- per-departure fee. A fee based upon aircraft entering controlled airspace is a bad idea.

• It is unsafe — some operators will avoid fees by not flying in controlled airspace.

• It is inefficient — it substitutes billing and bureaucracy for the Business Aviation community’s existing system of paying a fuel tax at the pump- whereby fuel companies remit receipts directly to the federal government- and it adds an extra burden regarding airline ticket fees.

• It is not a panacea — projected revenue is less than $750 million per year over the next decade.

• It promotes waste — granting the government a new source of aviation funding dulls its incentive to make the nation’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) system more efficient.

Furthermore- it is simply unjust. The system’s principal users are the airlines; it was for that community that the system was created and is being maintained. Business Aviation is a marginal user of an existing infrastructure that is a national necessity. Grounding every business aircraft would not change infrastructure costs. Perhaps the number of ATC personnel would be reduced during times of peak traffic activity- but no facilities would be closed- no satellites would be decommissioned- and none of the hub airports that account for most of the passenger traffic in the USA would see a reduction in operating costs.

(Fact: facility and operating costs at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in the US capital did not change noticeably when business aircraft were prohibited from operating there.)

The issue- however- is greater than just Business Aviation. The nation’s ATC system is necessary to support the ebb and flow of commerce- to facilitate enhanced quality of life for all citizens- and to assure our nation’s security. Attempting to balance the transportation budget on the backs of users- be they airline passengers or business people- is not good public policy. A strong air transportation infrastructure benefits everyone.

The House of Representatives objected to the Administration’s user fee proposal. Nearly half signed a bipartisan letter to President Obama expressing their extreme displeasure to the $100 per flight fee on Business Aviation and commercial flights. The DC-based associations and lobby groups aligned with Business Aviation- for example- have mounted a strong program to counter the user-fee proposal- and we expect them to be successful.

Democratic and Republican administrations have proposed added user fees (other than modifications to the fuel tax system) on Business Aviation for at least three decades- and each time the idea was turned down by Congress.

Despite rejection of government attempts to raise user fees on Business Aviation- similar proposals surface often. Such repetition is bad news- because it reflects widespread lack of public understanding concerning the benefits of Business Aviation as well as the overall advantages that all citizens derive from a safe and effective air transportation infrastructure.

If our nation did not have aviation- our nation’s economy and social life would be drastically impacted. Remember the days following 9/11 when most all aircraft were grounded?

The entire aviation community—airlines- users of business aircraft of all sizes- even sport flyers—must join hands in a program to communicate the nation’s need for air transportation. Without an efficient airline system- businesses are disadvantaged domestically and globally- and quality of life is negatively impacted.

Without Business Aviation- rural America lacks linkage to national and international markets. Without sport aviation- our nation’s youth is unlikely to pursue career opportunities in aviation. America needs aviation- not distorted rhetoric. A new $100 per departure user fee for business jets and commercial flights is a bad idea that is likely to be killed in Congress. The fact that it surfaced in the first place should be troubling to informed voters across our nation.

Do you have any questions or opinions on the above topic? Get them answered/published in World Aircraft Sales Magazine. Email feedback to: Jack@avbuyer.com 

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