All posts tagged 'User Fees'

Aviation User Fees: What's Missing Between The Lines?

As you may know, the Obama administration's latest budget proposes a new $100 per flight user fee for the privilege of using air traffic control services. The operators flying in controlled airspace would be required to pay the fee to the FAA. However, certain operations would be exempt from the fee including military aircraft, public aircraft, recreational piston aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights.

However, what has been missing from the discussion of the proposed user fee are a whole variety of practical, and legal, questions that remain unanswered:

The FAA as collector? If the FAA collects the fees, will this require formation of an additional level of bureaucracy to deal with collection and enforcement? Alternatively, would the FAA's regional counsel's offices be tasked with collection of unpaid fees? If so, how would that impact their current civil penalty and certificate action enforcement caseload? Or perhaps the FAA would handle collections out of its chief counsel's office.

In any event, more bureaucracy is very rarely a good thing. As an example, just look at the creation and unprecedented growth of the Transportation Safety Administration bureaucracy. And how would that additional bureaucracy be funded? Seems like a "catch-22" waiting to happen.

How will the user fee be assessed? Will the fee be assessed against the pilot, against the aircraft or, perhaps, against the aircraft owner? If the fee is assessed against the aircraft owner, what if the aircraft owner didn't authorize the activity for which the fee was charged? Would assessment of a fee against an aircraft owner under these circumstances violate due process?

How will the user fees be collected? Will the fees be charged at the point of sale (e.g. when you obtain file a flight plan or request a clearance) or will an account be established upon which an invoice or bill will later be sent requesting payment? If the former, would ATC demand a credit card number from a pilot prior to delivering a clearance or accepting a flight plan? If the latter, will the account be for the pilot, the aircraft, the aircraft owner or all of the above?

What happens if a user disputes a fee? For example, what if the fees are assessed against the wrong party or the amount assessed is incorrect? Will the innocent/aggrieved party have the opportunity/ability to contest or object to imposition of the fee? Who will decide the dispute? Will the dispute resolution process be fair and provide due process? Will the user have the right to appeal?

What happens if they are not paid? Will the government aggressively collect unpaid fees? Could unpaid fees become liens against aircraft or, worse yet, the equivalent of tax liens against the pilot or aircraft owner? If the unpaid fees are assessed against a certificate holder (e.g. pilot or air carrier) could the certificate holder's certificate(s) be at risk for failure to pay?


As you can see, aside from the political arguments as to whether user fees are an appropriate funding source for the FAA, the logistics of implementing a user fee system present equally formidable challenges that have yet to be addressed. Rather than simply looking at the potential revenue that user fees may generate, the administration will also need to offset that revenue with the costs of implementing and managing the necessary collection and enforcement mechanisms.

Additionally, the FAA would likely need to promulgate rules to address, and answer, all of these questions, and more. This would take time and cost more money.  At the end of the day, an honest analysis will likely reveal that aviation user fees are simply not worth it.

So you think User Fees are bad, See what the rest of the world is doing

User Fees – The Issue Compared & Understood


Outside of the United States User Fees is a harsh and unnecessary reality for much of the rest of the World. Allow me to take you on a World Tour of ‘User Fees’.



In Canada

There are Navigation Fees for Airspace Usage in Canada which is billed by NAVCANADA. Their Airspace Navigation Fees average out to about $0.40 per nautical mile; however the following fee calculations are stipulated and must be applied:


NAVCANADA charges a quarterly fee to all transient aircraft that uses their airspace. This ranges from $17.00 to $300 per Quarter depending on which aircraft category and weight class your aircraft fits into. They also may decide that a daily fee is appropriate and charge up-to a maximum of $333 per day. On top of this a NAT fee is applied per flight (to/from Canadian destinations and all subsequent hops are all considered separate flights), for a Biz-Jet it is $93.44 per flight. If a position report is to be made (flight following) then an additional charge of $58.24 is also applicable.


The calculation for Enroute fees that apply are worked as follows:


The unit rate of $0.03445 X Aircraft Weight X Distance Flown.


The Aircraft Weight is determined by taking the Square-root of the MGTOW of the aircraft in Metric Tonnes.


The Distance Flown is in Kilometres.

The calculation for Terminal fees that apply (Radar Service/Approaches, etc.) are worked as follows:

 The unit rate of $23.90 X Aircraft Weight.


In this instance the Aircraft Weight is determined by multiplying the MGTOW of the aircraft in Metric Tonnes by 0.8.


Customs charges are also charged to an Aircraft Operator by the Canada Border Services Agency through their Canadian Passenger Accelerated Service System (CANPASS.)



In Mexico and the Caribbean

There are Navigation Fees for Airspace Usage in and around several of the Caribbean States including Trinidad. These are billed through either the Caribbean Air Navigation and Advisory Services, Ltd. (CANAS) and Air Transit Clearing House Limited (ATCHL.) Other than the following list of fees, most Air Traffic Fees are rolled into Fuel taxes just like the U.S.A:

1) A tax for each time an aircraft crosses into Mexican airspace.

2) A landing fee based on the weight of the aircraft.

3) A per person immigration fee (this can be purchased as a multiple entry and would be good for 180 days.)

All other fees and taxes are local.



In the United Kingdom and Europe

All IFR flying made on Airways, as well as into, out-of, and through terminal airspace is charged to the aircraft owner/operator. Every instrument approach made comes with a fee. Every airport charges a landing fee regardless of whether you are arriving under IFR, or VFR; many of which charge surcharges based on aircraft weight and as well as noise category too. All weather briefings by telephone are charged like the ‘900’ area code system here, i.e. the cost per minute is charged to the incoming caller, while the fee per minute is captured and split between the telephone company and the government supplying the meteorological information. Basically pay-pay-pay, which is all in addition to some of the highest aviation fuel taxes on the planet...I won’t even start to talk about the Carbon Credit system that is being introduced there. The NAVCANADA user fees look really, really cheap when compared to what is being charged  in the UK and Europe. In April of 2013 the U.K. will extend the Airline Passenger Tax to all 12,500Lbs and up, Business Aircraft then making all passengers pay $288 each for the privilege of landing or taking off from their soil.


In Russia

Many control towers in Russia do not have English speaking controllers on staff, therefore it is often a mandated requirement to have a Russian Navigator onboard your aircraft, if you are visiting the country and flying internally. The navigator is billed on a daily rate plus all expenses.


Otherwise the user-fee situation there is negligible to none except for landing, parking, handling fees, as well as the occasional attempt made to hold a an aircraft hostage over invented user fees, tariffs, etc. at some of the provincial and remote airports in that country.



In the Middle East

The Middle East has always tried to mimic the precedents laid down by the Federal Aviation Administration, and therefore the airspace infrastructure is configured much like the U.S. while the infrastructure cost is subsidized by the League of Arab nations.



In Africa

For African User Fess see the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia. Some African countries have very rigid Fee policies, while others are more like the Wild-West of the 1800’s, i.e. no real governance and an awful lot of bandits.



In China and the Rest of Asia

China Compensation Fees apply as follows:


·         $3,000 for any landing on Chinese Soil from abroad

·         $1,200 for each landing made within China

·         $500 for every Over-flight Permit if transiting through their airspace


Additionally per Kilometre Navigation Fees apply as well as Airport specific Landing, Parking and Ground Handling Fees all apply.

In many parts of China, a Navigator is also required to be on-board just like Russia.


In Japan, the government there are attempting to privatize all of their airports, so their fee structure will drastically change soon.



In the Antipodes (Australia and New Zealand)

For User Fees in the Antipodes read the paragraphs that I have written about the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia and China and then combine them into the worst system possible.



In South America

Quite similar to Canada in the way user fees are administered and invoiced, however many flights undergo rigorous scrutiny and restriction.



In Conclusion

There is a darn good reason that statistically more than 60% of the World’s fleet of Business Aircraft are owned and operated in the United States of America and less than 10% in all of the European Union Member Countries put together.


Knowing what is being charged around the World outside of the U.S.A., the prospect of a $100 per flight User Fee suggested by our current Commander In Chief: Barack Hussein Obama II, might appear to be quite reasonable. If however, the current Federal Excise Tax (FET – Charged as follows on Jet A: $0.175 per gallon excise tax + $0.043 per gallon Deficit Reduction Tax + $0.001 per gallon LUST (Leaking Underground Storage Tax) tax = $0.219 per gallon) is maintained and charged alongside and addition to the proposed $100 User Fee, then may I be the first to welcome you to the ‘United Socialist States of America’, and we would then have become just like the rest of the intensely over-governed and struggling countries of the World!


The plight and dire struggle of an emerging nation is beautifully epitomised in the Declaration of Independence that was drafted, signed and addressed to King George III on the 4th of July in 1776. One of the many grievances that the colonists of what was to later become the United States, had with the then King, was how he continually imposed Taxes on the colonists without their consent.


In my opinion, the U.S.A. was founded on the following modern precepts:


1. You cannot ‘legislate’ the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.


I am pretty sure I have stirred up some ire by my ending statement, so please rosin up your fingers and start typing your comments below. By doing so you shall be exercising your right to freedom of speech, another American value that is often under attack as well.

Daviator versus Goliath

The epic battle waged this past fall between the general aviation community and lawmakers over user fees was re-examined today in an article by contributer and Corporate Flight Management, Inc., CEO Allen Howell.

On his blog,, Howell recounts the efforts of the Airline Transport Association and others, via mainstream media, to shift public perception of general aviation to that of, "fat cats who ride around in big corporate jets wallowing in corporate excess while asking for government bailouts."

Most of us thought it to be a losing battle but, still, none of us would go down without a fight. I can’t speak for the organizations that represent us, but at the time I think they probably saw the battle as an uphill fight. The organizations that supported our interests seemed to be behind the power curve and lacked the money to work the Hill the old fashioned way.  

From this recent win for the little guy, Howell says the term 'We the People' may have new meaning in today's political climate.

Read the full story here.

Star of "Air Force One," pilot of Millenium Falcon promotes GA in Washington

Indiana Jones traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, saying show business has been good to him.

So has the spirit of flying, apparently, as Harrison Ford met with Congressional members alongside AOPA President Craig Fuller. Among the talking points, a big thank you to lawmakers for not imposing user fees in this year's FAA budget.

Read more on the visit via General Aviation News.

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