Ok, I have to spout off here. CNN is running an article about the White House’s new funding plan proposal for the air traffic control system. However, the numbers, provided by the White House, are incomplete, at best.
They state that 11% of traffic is General Aviaiton (or Business Aviation) and that we only pay 3% of the taxes. This is a clear FUD campaign. Here’s the real story.
It might be true that 11% of the traffic is by GA or BA flights, however MOST GA Traffic does not use the Air Traffic System. Flights flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) are not required to use Air Traffic Control, and therefore, don’t. It’s that simple.
In the very rare instances that I do it, I welcome it, however, I would say that 95% of my flights never require me talking to a Control Tower, ATC or even FSS (Flight Service.) So, adjusting for that math… that leaves us with only 5% of 11%… which comes out to…. let’s see, carry the one… a grand total of .55% usage of the air traffic control system, yet we pay 3% of the taxes. GA is already paying almost 6 times the tax rate that commercial traffic is paying, and now they want to raise that four fold.
So, why is the Bush Administration trying to raise our taxes? Simple, they’re trying to increase our fees to offset the poor management decisions of the airlines, and Marion Blakey (FAA Administrator) is falling right into their lobbyists hands. Not only that, they’re trying to “overhaul” the National Air Traffic Control system, by giving those same airlines more control over how it is run. What? They’re trying to give more control of the National Airspace System to these same companies that can’t even keep their own businesses a float. Are you kidding me??? The current national airspace system is not broken, period. Airlines are broken. The Hub and Spoke model simply doesn’t scale. What we need is new ideas here, not expanding on out dated ones. Most commerical flights fly above 18,000 (in fact, all of them do.) Most GA flights occur below 12,000 feet. Let’s add a step in the 12k to 18k for “medium” traffic. That’s what the vision of the SATS program that I was involved in was about. Utilizing the air space system that we have and reducing that “overloaded” commercial sector. I’d also like to see a few of these newer startup airlines buy out or drive out of business some of the larger airlines that simply can not handle their own volume. Replacing dinosaurs like Delta with smarter companies like JetBlue would be a good step.
I agree with Smaller Gov’t and such, this is one point that it really doesn’t make sense. The current funding of the FAA is more than sufficient. In fact, if you ever read up on the FAA Funding policy, you would understand that they CAN’T have a funding crisis… the are already funded for decades. (In fact, I think you’d be amazed at how well they are funded.) They’re not loosing money. If they want to save more money, then what they need to do is to continue to innovate like how they privatized the new FSS system. That works great and saves the FAA money… it is a much better system and much less costly. Raising taxes and lying to the public as to the reason for it, simply isn’t the answer, period.