Industry News

FSS reauthorization bill back in process The U.S. Senate at last cleared its FAA reauthorization bill which, among other provisions, funds the Airport Improvement Program at $4 billion in FY 2010 and $4.1 billion in FY 2011. The legislation moves...

U.S. senate — approves an amendment authored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to assist FAA in creating a standardized, voluntary set of best practices to assist airports in operating and building sustainable facilities. Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and other industry representatives are leading a new initiative, the Airport Sustainability Institute (ASI), an independent, not-for-profit agency that would promote sustainability performance standards, and could objectively assess and rate airports, certify their sustainability level, and recognize their achievements.

U.S. travel assn. — forms a study panel to recommend ways to ensure secure, efficient, and customer-friendly air travel. Members include former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Jim Turner (D-TX); Robert Crandall, former American Airlines CEO; Bennet Waters, former deputy assistant secretary of TSA; and Thomas Ripp, president of L-3 Security and Detection Systems.

In Memoriam
Long-time Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) president John Baker died in March at his home in Angier, NC. Baker started flying in a Piper J2 Cub when he was 15, flew fighters in Korea for the U.S. Air Force, and later graduated from law school. In the 1970s, he became the FAA’s Assistant Administrator for General Aviation, and in 1977 became AOPA’s second president.

Baker is credited with leading efforts to unlock a $4 billion surplus in the Aviation Trust Fund, keeping GA airspace restrictions to a minimum, battling a proposed annual federal tax on all GA aircraft, blocking wholesale closings of Flight Service Stations, and being a leader in the fight for aviation product liability reform.

NATA Challenges Part 135 Report
In March the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on “FAA’s Oversight of On-Demand Aircraft Operators”, during which National Air Transportation Assn. president James K. Coyne challenged a July 13, 2009 report from the DOT Inspector General titled “On-Demand Operators Have Less Stringent Safety Requirements and Oversight Than Large Commercial Carriers”. Coyne charges that the report failed to present an accurate picture of the Part 135 regulatory environment.

The report cited numerous examples of differences between Part 135 and Part 121 regulations but did not offer adequate explanation for the reason for the variances, says Coyne. He added that Part 135 accident rates have steadily improved in recent years, with two fatal accidents occurring in 2009.

FBO snapshots

Odyssey opens at new orleans lakefront
Odyssey Aviation, the former Million Air fixed base operation at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, officially opens its new FBO, offering views of Lake Ponchartrain. Odyssey, one of a Cincinnati-based chain of FBOs, had its previous facilities demolished by Hurricane Katrina. Much of the airfield had to be reconstructed after Katrina, which along with a long permitting process held up the rebuilding effort.

Business jet center expands at oak
Business Jet Center (BJC), a fixed base operation at Oakland Int’l Airport, adds more than 15,000 square feet of hangar space to its leasehold. BJC now manages more than 100,000 square feet of designated business and general aviation hangar space, making it one of the largest FBOs in the Bay Area. Business Jet Center OAK opened in the fall of 2003 and completed a $4 million renovation of the airport’s 8,449-sq. ft. original 1920’s executive terminal building.

LETTER - Fuel Fraud Tax
Been reading your articles now for a while. So let’s talk about something that has to be one of the most secretive taxes in the aviation industry: [the] fuel fraud tax. Can we please bring this tax back to the forefront of aviation?

As you know or I hope you know, this additional tax of .024 cents per gallon was imposed in Oct. 2005. Now here is the creative part — the .219 excise taxes we have all paid into the Aviation Trust Fund hasn’t been going there since Oct. 2005. That right, it now goes to the Highway Fund. The only way to move it from the Highway Fund back into the Aviation Trust Fund is by the Ultimate Venders who actually apply for the refund of .024.

Million Air St. Louis applies for the refund. We move the funds, but how many other FBOs have applied to be an Ultimate Vender? How many FBOs are applying for the refund? From what I have seen and heard, not many. Most FBOs I have spoken to know little or nothing about it and choose not to do it. Most pilots know little or nothing about it and we continually have to educate them about it as we ask them for their Federal Tax ID number in case we were to be audited.

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