I don’t like to sound dramatic, but the reality we’re facing today definitely has a battle-front feel.
GA is under assault, and we have every reason to believe the next attack is coming soon.
Take a look at the facts:
The FAA has opted to close 149 air traffic control towers, chosen primarily because they serve general aviation airports. Not every GA flight or airport may need a tower, but many do, and this wholesale closing doesn’t make sense.
Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas offered an amendment to a spending bill that would have stopped many of those closures by giving the FAA the flexibility to cut spending in non-essential areas. His amendment had 26 co-sponsors from both parties and wide bipartisan support. Senate leadership, possibly at the direction of the White House, prevented the amendment from ever coming to a vote.
General aviation has been threatened with higher taxes; cuts to weather, medical, and certification services; and user fees.
In fact, user fees have come up in every White House budget since President Obama has been in office—and we have every reason to believe we’ll see them again.
The President’s budget is long overdue, but sooner or later it will be released, and we will be ready.
Our friends in Congress are mobilizing to let their opposition to user fees be known. Last year 195 members of Congress from both parties signed a letter telling President Obama that user fees are unacceptable. A new letter is in the works and we expect even more of our elected leaders to sign on.
At AOPA’s offices here in Frederick and D.C., we’re mobilizing, too. Our “war room” is up and running and our team is busy meeting with elected leaders, FAA officials, Department of Transportation officials, and others. We’re asking tough questions and demanding straightforward answers. We’re analyzing the consequences of their decisions and making sure they understand the true costs of their approach to raising revenue and cutting spending.
And we’re talking to the media. In just the past few days we’ve talked to reporters from CNN, CNBC, Fox News Radio, NBC Nightly News, NPR, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Reuters, and many more. We’ve even worked to connect our members with reporters so they can share their personal experiences and concerns.
Do we want to see wasteful spending cut? Of course we do! That’s in the interests of every American. But “wasteful” is the key word here, and the cuts we’re seeing now are more about inflicting pain than reducing waste.
What did we, as a GA community, do to deserve to be targeted in this way?
Well, we certainly didn’t do anything wrong. We supported millions of jobs, created billions in economic impact, supported a home-grown manufacturing sector, and provided charitable relief to everyone from victims of Hurricane Sandy to individuals in need of specialized medical care.
And yet, our freedom to fly is on the line. It’s unacceptable, and we’re fighting back!
You, our members, are our greatest asset in this fight and we’ll need your strength in the coming battles. We may be asking you to take direct action at times. We’ll give you details about when and how you can help as the need arises.
It won’t be easy and there are no quick victories in this kind of conflict, but together we can, and must, prevail.