AviationFAA wants pilot convention to pay for air-traffic control services

Published 9 July 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) that it – the EAA – would have to pay for air traffic control services during the EAA’s big AirVenture event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The EAA asked a court for a judicial review of the FAA request, arguing that the FAA’s demand amounts to imposing a user fee on the pilots who take part in the event – pilots who already pay fuel taxes which fund the national air-traffic control system.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) wants a federal appeals court to block the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) demand that the EAA pay for air traffic control services during the AirVenture convention.

The Northwestern reports that last Wednesday, the EAA requested a  judicial review from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, arguing that the pilots  attendeding the convention already paid fuel taxes which fund the national air-traffic control system.

The EAA also said that Congress barred the FAA from imposing user fees in the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013. In addition to reversing the payment order, the EAA also wants the FAA to return the money already paid to the agency.

“While we understand the FAA’s position and the temptation to augment its congressional appropriation, we naturally don’t agree since we believe this approach unlawfully circumvents congressional approval and standard due process,” EAA chairman Jack Pelton said in a statement. “This affects AirVenture and numerous other aviation events throughout the nation in an unauthorized and unjustified manner. That is why we are seeking review, relief, and clarification from the court.”

Earlier this year the FAA told EAA officials they would have to pay $447,000 for eighty-seven air traffic controllers and supervisors to come to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the AirVenture convention.

The FAA has billed other general aviation events for services this year in an effort to compensate for a five percent federal spending decrease.

In June, AirVenture made a partial payment, and the remaining sum would be paid after the FAA completes its duties at the convention, but EAA officials and members of the state’s congressional delegation questioned the FAA’s authority to impose user fees on general aviation gatherings.

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told the Northwestern in an e-mail that he cannot comment until the situation is resolved.