User fees: like chewing earthworms

The FAA’s proposed funding plan includes “user fees”, which basically means the meter will be ticking more loudly while we’re cutting holes in the sky. My personal opinion is that the aggravation factor will be high if user fees come to fruition.

As a software developer I can’t fathom the size of the application development project that the FAA will have to under take to support point-of-use billing and account management. Credit card processing, account management, returns, credits, web applications, invoicing, customer service, 1-800 numbers, yada, yada, yada. The guys left holding the reigns for making all this happen will be sitting in project management meetings in months to come saying “What the heck were they thinking?”

The investment in IT and application development for managing this program will be enormous, buggy, and take years to iron out. Simply imagine the pain that will be involved disputing a bill you received for flight services that you think is full of errors.

The word that comes to mind when I think about how this will change aviation is “bleech!” – the sound you make when chewing a bunch of earthworms.

So, get active and write your representatives. Here’s a communication sent out by the President of the NBAA:

A recently released FAA funding proposal represents one of the greatest threats business aviation has ever faced. To keep this proposal from becoming law, you need to take action now.

The recent news excerpts alongside this message demonstrate that airline lobbying has succeeded in getting the FAA to unveil a funding plan that gives the giant airlines a major tax break while imposing massive tax hikes and onerous new user fees on the businesses that rely on general aviation.

The airlines’ FAA plan also dramatically reduces Congressional authority over the air traffic system, gives airlines a bigger say in FAA operations, and establishes a huge new multi-billion dollar bureaucracy to assess and collect user fees.

NBAA is fighting this toxic mix of massive tax increases, user fees and airline power, but our success depends on you. Your elected officials need to hear from you about the airlines’ FAA proposal, because you can be sure that every Member of Congress is hearing from the big airlines and their army of lobbyists.

Please take a minute to voice your opposition to the airlines’ FAA proposal by using NBAA’s online resource for communicating with Congress (if you have used the resource before, I urge you to use it again to send a new letter that has been prepared specific to the FAA proposal). To access Contact Congress, visit:

Once you have accessed the resource, fill in the information requested and NBAA’s software will automatically prepare an email you can send to your Senators and your House Representative in opposition to the big airlines’ radical scheme. You can edit the letter before sending it if you wish.

I also urge you to forward this email to others you know who care about the future of business aviation in the United States. Encourage them to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. If we act collectively, we can not only defeat the big airlines’ FAA plan, but modernize our air traffic control system to ensure that all Americans have access to the largest, safest and most efficient aviation system in the world.


Ed Bolen
President and CEO
National Business Aviation Association


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March 2007
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