The Helicopter Assn. International has joined with a diverse assembly of U.S. aviation, airport, community, and industry groups to fight the current drive to change the mechanisms by which the FAA is funded.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America aims to muster enough political and lobbying muscle to counter major U.S. airlines, which are the major force behind the effort to impose more user fees on general aviation operations.
"Our coalition is here to send a clear message to lawmakers that we stand united against a radical ‘user fees’ proposal, which would decimate businesses and communities around our country through a huge tax hike," said Gene Wright, mayor of Quinwood, W.V., pilot, and coalition member. "This special-interest legislation would benefit no one but the big commercial airlines
The coalition includes the League of Rural Voters, National Assn. of State Aviation Officials, Air Care Alliance, National Farmer’s Union, National Agricultural Aviation Assn., the National Business Aviation Assn., Angel Flight, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assn. "and hundreds of small and medium-size businesses from around the country," according to the alliance.
The Bush Administration proposed the user fees as part of its plan for FAA reauthorization, in part to offset a multi-billion dollar tax break for the airlines
HAI President Matt Zuccaro said that, in keeping with the "strange arithmetic of budgets in Washington," the proposal would more than triple the tax on aviation fuel from 21 cents to 71 cents a gallon, "and leave $600 million less for the FAA."
As a member of the alliance, he said, HAI is committed to working with Congress "to see that America’s air traffic control system is properly modernized to enhance safety, promote efficiency, and expand capacity." Information on the alliance can be found at www.aviationacrossamerica.org.