New Push by Obama Administration for General Aviation User Fees
The latest attempt from the White House to impose a per-flight user fee on general aviation ignores the message sent previously from Congress, mayors, governors and industry stakeholders, that user fees are not the right approach to aviation system funding and modernization.
Despite a February 27 letter from the Chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, the ranking member of the subcommittee and the co-chairmen of the House General Aviation Caucus, reiterating their strong bipartisan opposition to any plan to impose a $100 per-flight fee on commercial and general aviation operators, the Obama Administration has included user fees in their fiscal year 2015 spending proposal released on March 4th.
GBAA believes that the proposed $100 per flight user fee would not only impose significant new economic and administrative burdens on general aviation operators who currently pay through an efficient per-gallon fuel charge at the pump, but it will also necessitate the creation of a costly new federal collection bureaucracy.
We encourage all GBAA Members to use a newly enhanced Contact Congress resource on the NBAA website to oppose the proposed aviation user fees. NBAA has provided a new Contact Congress email, pertaining specifically to the president's proposal, so that Members can submit personalized messages directly to their lawmakers. The online resource also provides a Twitter-based message option, which creates randomized tweets for users to send with the hashtag #NoUserFees. Click Here
FAA's New Plan to Mandate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Screening for Some Pilots
This past November, the FAA announced they would soon begin subjecting pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) screening prior to receiving a medical certificate. It was later revealed that the agency would also require pilots to bear the significant costs of getting tested for OSA (as much as $5,000, according to some sources), and obtaining the requisite equipment to treat the condition, if necessary. GBAA and other industry groups are concerned with the FAA's announcement, because there appears to be no causal link between OSA and flying accidents and no clear indication that the additional screening requirement would improve aviation safety. Equally troubling, the vast majority of pilots have neither been provided an opportunity to learn of the FAA's plans, nor been given a mechanism for providing feedback on the proposal.
Proposed legislation (H.R.3578) - will compel the FAA to consult the industry stakeholders through the established rule making process before issuing any requirement for pilots to undergo OSA screening. Furthermore, it will ensure that the FAA will conduct a fully transparent, data-driven justification for its proposal, which takes into account the full spectrum of costs, benefits and other important criteria before any OSA rule or regulation can take effect.
GBAA encourages all members to contact their elected representatives in opposition to this onerous new FAA policy by clicking on this NBAA Contact Congress Link.
ATL Class B RNAV Routes
The FAA's approach to airspace optimization has not been so friendly to GA operators elsewhere in the U.S. The GBAA has worked with the Atlanta A-80 group on the redesign of the Atlanta Class B airspace this past year. The Atlanta proposal - part of a nationwide Optimization of Airspace Procedures in a Metroplex (OAPM) program being conducted as part of the transition to satellite-based navigation and NextGen - includes T-319, a north-south route directly above Hartsfield-Jackson. This more-or-less direct route will save GA operators considerable time, fuel and cost when transitioning the Atlanta Class B.
The GBAA is preparing formal comments that voice strong support for the Atlanta proposal. T-routes were originally intended to give GA pilots viable alternatives to circumnavigation of Class B airspace.
Members and fellow pilots are urged to review the proposal and submit comments by December 30, 2013.
CBP Updates Southern Boarder Overflight-Exemption Process
Following nearly two years of collaboration between Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials and the NBAA Security Council, effective June 17, CBP has updated certain requirements under the Southern Border Overflight-Exemption Process for approved general aviation operators.
Key among the updates is that all Overflight Exemption holders flying into the United States from across the southern border can now overfly CBP-designated processing airports, and proceed to any U.S. airport where normal CBP services are available.
Also of particular note, CBP will no longer require at least one passenger to be on board, nor will the agency require aircraft to depart from an approved airport. The changes should substantially reduce operators' costs for compliance.
Bankhead C&D Waste Regional Transfer Site Denied
On 19 March, Cobb County commissioners voted 4-0 to deny a settlement to ongoing litigation with the Bankhead C&D regional waste site. Tuesday's unanimous vote means litigation between the county and Bankhead will likely continue over the disputed application for expansion of the trash transfer station. Bankhead already runs a transfer site for construction and demolition debris but wants to expand the site near Mableton to include household garbage. This could attract birds, which could be an issue affecting the safety of planes flying in and out of nearby Charlie Brown Airport, which is just over the county line in Fulton County. GBAA Chairman Dave Small wrote to the Cobb County commissioners on 15 February expressing opposition to the proposed site expansion citing several safety concerns. "Several of our GBAA member Fortune 500 companies operate business jet aircraft out of the airport. They have expressed concerns with the potential transfer of garbage in such close proximity to the airport traffic area. The speeds at which jet aircraft operate and birds, do not mix well. Bird strike damage can affect aircraft controllability, cause engine failure or shatter windshields causing severe injury to flight crews. The Cobb County Board of Commisioners voted unanimously last May to deny the company's application to accept municipal solid waste. This was the right thing to do because of the potential bird hazard and negative impact for the future development of South Cobb" wrote Small.
GBAA Weighs in with the FAA Regarding Proposed Fulton County Airport Tower Closure
On 12 March, GBAA Chairman Dave Small submitted a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta expressing numerous safety concerns with the proposed closure of the Fulton County Airport Air Traffic Control Tower as a result of budget sequestration. "Fulton County Airport is located only 10 miles away from the world's busiest airport. Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International (KATL). While KFTY has less than 150,000 operations per year, it lies within the KATL traffic pattern regardless of the active runway in use. Six highly active general aviation airports also exist within Atlanta's Class B airspace in addition to Dobbins Air Reserve Base. General aviation operations within Atlanta's Class B airspace average 2,600 operations per day, which nearly equals Hartsfield Jackson's 2,621 daily commercial operations." Small also added, "Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson has 950,000 yearly operations and handles over 90 million passengers. This mixture of high speed jet aircraft within the Atlanta airspace necessitates professional control throughout all phases of flight. Anything less unnecessarily increases risk to the flying public and is a disaster waiting to happen."
GBAA has also written key House and Senate Committee members as well as Georgia's two Senators regarding the negative impact of the Administration's planned FAA cuts due to sequestration. "Surely there are other areas where cuts can be made without sacrificing the flying public's safety. These cuts are not safe or sensible by any measure. Closing more than 200 air traffic control towers, derailing certification and allowing our naviagtional aid system to deteriorate just doesn't make sense", wrote Small. Click here to view the letter submitted.
GBAA Board Establishes Government & Regulatory Affairs Ad Hoc Committee
The GBAA Board of Directors has approved the establishment of an ad hoc Government and Regulatory Affairs Committee. Given the myriad of issues affecting Business Aviation, our goal is to increase advocacy on behalf of our membership throughout Georgia. We will focus on major issues such as user fees, EU-ETS, FAA Modernization, proposed local airspace changes (ATL Class B), security issues (BARR & LASP II), Customs/CBP issues and continue to support NBAA initiatives in these and other areas. Jim Kazin will chair the newly established committee and be joined by fellow board members Dave Small, Chris Algee, Dan Lucey, Pat Trudell and Jim Gardner.
Georgia Aerospace Legislative Breakfast
On February 6, several GBAA Board Members attended the 3rd Annual Georgia Aerospace Legislative Breakfast at the State Capitol building. The event was coordinated by the Georgia Aerospace Policy Working Group and sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Georgia Airports Association (GAA) and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). We had the opportunity to meet with several of our State Representatives and Senators to discuss why aerospace is important to their communities and the state of Georgia. Airspace issues, business aviation and aviation curriculum & education in Georgia's high schools were also discussed. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle also addressed the group regarding the significant economic contributions that aviation brings to the state of Georgia. A proclamation supporting the Aerospace Industry in Georgia was also presented in the House and Senate chambers. We also had the opportunity to meet and network with other like-minded business owners and operators who were there to represent General Aviation such as TIMCO, Epps Aviation, Georgia Tech, Atlanta Aero Club and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
GBAA Opposes Proposed GA User Fees
The Georgia Business Aviation Association recently sent letters to the entire Georgia Congressional Delegation, in opposition to the proposed $100 per-flight user fee included in the Administration's ongoing deficit reduction and budget proposals. The February 11 letter, on behalf of the GBAA membership, highlighted general aviation's contributions to economic development and job opportunities within Georgia, including the use of the airplane as an essential business tool. "We are concerned that the proposed per-flight tax not only imposes significant new economic and administrative burdens on general aviation operators, but will also necessitate the creation of a costly new federal collection bureaucracy," wrote David Small, GBAA's Chairman. The letters also stated that the GBAA stands ready to work with the Senators and Representatives to educate others about the importance of business aviation and its value to the State of Georgia and the nation as a whole. View the letters here.
Atlanta's Class B Airspace Changes Take Effect March 7, 2013
A new configuration of the Class B airspace in Atlanta, GA, that takes effect March 7 will mitigate many of the concerns expressed by general aviation pilots during the airspace redesign process, AOPA said. Overall, the new airspace rule contains positive responses to comments submitted during the rulemaking process, including reducing the potential for traffic compression in the vicinity of Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, placing another satellite airport outside the Class B airspace's eastern boundary and providing for variety of VFR navigation options around the Class B area.
The final airspace design set the Class B floor at 7,000 feet mean sea level above Dekalb-Peachtree, down from the present 8,000-foot-msl floor but 2,000 feet higher than the reconfiguration's earlier design. The FAA noted in the final rule that the change would still satisfactorily accommodate departures from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Reduction of the overall airspace footprint will place Covington Municipal Airport outside the Class B airspace's eastern boundary at its location 29 nautical miles from the Atlanta VOR.
For more information go to http://www.aopa.org/advocacy/articles/2013/130110atlanta-class-b-airspace-change.html