PRESIDENT'S REPORT - JOE PEARSON
April 6, 2007
The last two months have been
unusually busy for your association. We have been aggressively involved in the
“user fees” fight (might also be referred to as the triple fuel tax followed
by cost for weather/tower/FSS/landing fee program. See note "user fees"
below). I don’t know about you but when fuel bumped up another buck a gallon
last year my flying measurably declined.
Additionally, we are up to our
collective necks in the ongoing Capstone/ADS-B program. It is valuable,
proven, and needed, particularly in our state where much of our activity is
non-radar environment. The terrain is a little different than say Florida, as
well. Between the concentrated traffic in areas like the Part 93 area, the
non-radar environment, the terrain challenges and the lack of a road system
this program seems like a non-brainer, but now we are “working” with the feds
to facilitate state-wide implementation. Lots of moving parts and expensive.
This will be a challenge but we think a worth while one. (check our web site
for updates if you are interested).
The military has proposed an extension
to the MOAs up north. Easy to say “doesn’t effect me,” but when you consider
that ALL IFR TRAFFIC coming and going from Alaska is affected, and when you
consider unilateral changes in authorized airspace will someday hit close to
home then I believe we should be working closely with them so protect all the
users. Sometimes this state isn’t as big as the map would suggest.
Closer to home we are right around the
corner from the 2007 Trade Show! This year promises to be the best show yet as
we have been granted the use of the extensive UPS ramp adjacent to the FedEx
hangar. Expect to see an impressive military representation in addition to the
wide range of civilian products. We always have need of talented folks like
you! If you can give us some time please call the office. In return I’d offer
to pay your entrance fee (if there was one).
Won’t be long and the Lake Hood
complex will be active for the summer. You float drivers can anticipate to
hear “Airmen’s Point” in place of “Jim Air” as a reporting point. (Thanks to
our local controllers for help with that one). Besides making sure our ride is
ready for ops, might be a good time to review part 93 and the reporting points
and associated altitudes. Yes…it’s VFR, but who needs the surprise of
co-altitude opposite direction traffic. Makes me and my passengers nervous.
As always, the coffee is on and we are
anxious to hear what concerns you. And what you are happy with. Let us know,
and lend us a hand if you can. This is primarily a volunteer organization that
depends on all of us. We can also use more members so get a friend to join and
take advantage of our discounts and services. Makes a great gift for your
friends outside who might enjoy the Transponder for a link up north.
Fly safe! Joe
A NOTE ON USER FEES AND HOW THEY WOULD
EFFECT ALASKA . . . . . . .
I have reviewed the
proposed “user fees.” I also attended a brief by a senior FAA spokesman sent
to address “User Fees” by Senator Stevens. I believe I have a fairly
comprehensive understanding of this proposal. Currently, the congress is
acting on this issue and it is likely that what is approved by congress
(presuming they do approve this plan or a version thereof) will be different
then what the FAA asked for. That being said, my comments address the original
The basic premise of this
plan is to:
Fairly allocate costs with
those who utilize FAA services.
oversight of the FAA
Change how airports receive
How does this affect Alaska? Let me
offer some thoughts on each aforementioned premise.
a. Fairly allocate costs with those
who utilize FAA services.
Generally speaking the share of FAA
expenses currently charged to the airlines (and large cargo outfits) will be
reduced from around 97% to about half. This proposal lowers their fuel tax to
13cents/gal and adds user fees to their operations. (Interesting to note my
sources claim that UPS and FedEx oppose this plan while all the passenger
carriers support this plan). Thus users will each be billed every month for
every ATC contact outside the terminal area, every penetration of class “B”
airspace that culminates in a landing at the primary airport within that class
B airspace, every flight plan, every weather brief.
GA will see the fuel tax raised from
19cents/gal to 70cents/gal. At this time GA would not pay user fees in
addition to the 70c/gal. Corporate turbine aircraft I believe pay the 70c/gal
plus user fees. They will be the most adversely impacted in my opinion.
Lets consider GA Alaska for a moment.
The vast majority of GA aircraft depart from a state or private facility, fly
VFR without the benefit of RADAR services (below 10,000’ most of Alaska is NOT
under RADAR coverage) to another state, private, or off airport area again
with no FAA provided services. We are then rewarded with 70cent/gal tax. Why?
This in effect supports the GA activities in the lower 48. What if all GA
aircraft eligible for an autogas STC switch to autogas? The population of
avgas buyers declines, the revenues from the fuel tax declines, so costs are
simply passed on the those unable to switch thereby increasing the tax on
avgas for those who continue to use avgas. So much for “fairness” and
properly allocating costs with users.
If you operate one aircraft or a fleet
and use any FAA services you will need to deal with monthly bills for FAA
services. They claim a “minor” inconvenience, but I suggest that blindly
paying bills without any source documents means you will be trusting a new
system to be completely accurate. And what do you do if your plane wasn’t in
the air the day they charge you for ATC and filing services? Someone will
spend a great deal of time working that issue. Increased costs for the users
is not captured in their proposal
oversight of the FAA.
Currently the FAA must submit a budget
request to congress. The budget approved by the congress is what the FAA must
honor that fiscal year. (Reminds me of how most of us live). This proposal
both removes congressional oversight and eliminates any real requirement for
fiscal restraint. Spent too much this year? Just raise fees in an attempt to
properly assign costs to the users. Think we will ever see fees decline?
Consider another “self sustaining” government entity: the post office. They
are so efficient that companies like UPS and FedEx thrive. What alternatives
do we have to the FAA? None. No oversight, no requirement for fiscal
responsibility. Is that how you raised your kids or run your household?
Change how airports receive
I’m not as familiar with this one but
as I understand it, funding for rural airports will be tied to the number of
aircraft based at that airport. You can appreciate how that will adversely
affect most of Alaska’s airports. So, while millions is spend paving around
taxi way lights down south, we have airports that are unusable during breakup
and the funding source for maintenance in improvements (from the feds) is
In summary, this is a BAD deal for
Alaska aviation. The state that depends primarily on air commerce is the most
adversely effected by this bill. Doesn’t sound fair to me. If you don’t agree
with me or just don’t care then you are in good shape doing nothing. If you do
care you need to write congressman Young and our senators or this will become
our reality. And I’ll be buying a tank for my truck.