Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to soon consider a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, but within the expected iteration to be considered is, once again, the prospect of general aviation user fees.
In an op-ed for Politico, Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo says the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel is expected to propose legislation that would includes the establishing of a non-profit entity to oversee the nation’s air navigation system.
Pompeo says modernizing the system is important as the FAA continues to work to try and move the country to a more efficient satellite-based radar system.
“Unfortunately, recent draft outlines of legislation would unduly burden the general aviation community,” Pompeo says. “Most concerning is a proposal to add to or replace the current fuel tax system with user fees in order to finance a new air traffic regulator that would be run by a board of aviation interest groups.”
Pompeo says such a plan would place an unfair burden on the industry, which uses far less fuel than its commercial counterparts.
The fuel tax system, he says, is the most fair way to determine between heavy and light users.
“For instance, an aircraft flying a long distance should contribute a greater share of the funds to regulate air travel than should an airline flying just a short distance,” Pompeo says. “With the fuel tax, that is the case. But under the new proposed system, the two planes would pay the same fees.”
He also raises his concern that the plan would require the creation of a collection bureau that would add another layer of red tape that, coupled with the user fees, would harm one of Wichita’s vital industries.
“If Congress wants to reform our nation’s air traffic control system, it must do so without creating new mandatory user fees and additional layers of regulatory bureaucracy,” Pompeo concludes. “Instead, lawmakers should refocus and maximize FAA resources to speed up current ATC modernization efforts in order to increase system efficiency, while maintaining our high safety standards. When it comes to reforming the way our skies are regulated, we must be certain that as we work to solve specific problems, we do not create others.
Daniel McCoy covers aviation, manufacturing, automotive and Koch Industries.