Who Should Pay for AirVenture Controllers?
By now you’ve probably heard that the FAA wants the Experimental Aircraft Association to foot the cost for air traffic controllers at this summer’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin – to the tune of about $500,000. Not surprisingly, EAA is hopping mad. In a normal year this request would be ludicrous. After all, pilots who buy fuel to fly to Oshkosh pay for ATC services in the form of the 19.4-cent-per-gallon tax on avgas. No question, asking EAA to pay for controllers that pilots have already paid for by filling their tanks is tantamount to double taxation.
Of course, this is far from a “normal” year. The impact of government sequestration has caused pain in all corners of aviation, from the cancellation of performances by the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels to delays in certification of new aviation products. The FAA is being forced to make $384 million in cuts by September 30, and is looking to save a good-sized chunk of money by asking EAA to pay for the controllers the organization needs at AirVenture.
If the FAA has to pay the price tag for extra controllers at Oshkosh, that’s a half million dollars less it has to spend in other areas, like advancing the Part 23 rewrite, for example. At the same time, EAA makes a lot of money from AirVenture. Wisconsin’s economy benefits as well. Other airshows have already been asked and agreed to pay for extra controllers, as happened at Sun ‘n Fun this spring when Florida’s tourism board kicked in $125,000 toward those costs.
EAA has been encouraging its members to contact Congress to demand the FAA stop “charging aviation events, including EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, for air traffic services.” But where was the outcry in the lead up to Sun ‘n Fun? I agree, EAA shouldn’t be forced to pay for controllers at Oshkosh. But if it turns out EAA doesn’t have to pay, the FAA should also return the money it received from Florida’s tourism board.
Or better yet, maybe EAA should be asking its members to send letters to Congress demanding an end to the sequestration. That would solve everything.
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