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Alexandria, Va. – As a follow up to HAI's articles last week on President Obama's budget request to Congress – which includes a $100 per flight fee for general aviation – HAI is providing additional information which may answer some of the industry's questions on this issue.
 
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have already passed their respective budgets, and as noted in HAI's RotorNews last week, the president's budget is more than two months late. Since both the House and Senate passed widely different budgets and even farther apart in many respects from the administration's position on government spending and revenue, it is unlikely that the FY 2014 budget will be resolved soon.

Neither the House nor Senate budgets contain provisions for user fees on general aviation. More than 220 members of the U.S. House sent a letter to President Obama before the release of his budget request, putting him on notice that they opposed user fees.
 
The support we have received from the General Aviation Caucus in the House does not mean that the helicopter industry should sit back and relax and not keep the message moving forward on the subject of user fees. It is important for our industry to continue to let our elected officials in Washington know of the valuable contributions to the economy that come from all segments of our industry.

Our industry creates jobs, and we need to stress to our allies in Congress that burdens imposed on businesses such as the user fee proposal will kill jobs and cause irreparable harm to the economy and the aircraft manufacturing sector.
 
The great unknown in this debate is what final legislative language could look like for a user fee. Many of the conditions for when a $100 per flight fee would be imposed would be worked out by the administration. Clearly, our industry might not bode well if our concerns are not heard now before it is too late.
 
To date, there is nothing in writing from the Obama Administration that details when the fees would kick in – i.e. operating from uncontrolled airports without flight plans, contacting approach control or departure control for traffic advisories, contracting towers for clearance for take-off or landing, or even a $100 fee each time contact is made or per flight regardless of the number of air traffic services utilized? Would contacting a flight service station (FSS) trigger the fee?
 
For these reasons, pick up the phone and call Washington today and let your elected House and Senate members know how our industry feels about user fees. Contact information may be found at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

HAI and our members oppose the administration's proposed $100 per flight fee on corporate and general aviation plain and simple. A user fee on general aviation will simply add another layer of bureaucracy, creating new paperwork burdens and a new tax on small businesses.

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