WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2008 – Today, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) responded to a joint report on private jet travel and the general aviation (GA) industry authored by the Institute for Policy Studies and Essential Action (IPS/EA).
The report resurrects the well-worn, and worn-out airline industry claim that GA does not pay its fair share of the costs associated with air traffic control (ATC) services when in fact, the airlines themselves drive the costs of a hub and spoke model that was built primarily to meet their needs. The costs imposed on the system to move an airliner with over 100 passengers between one of their hubs or from a spoke airport to a hub, dwarf the costs imposed upon the system by general aviation aircraft that intentionally avoid the airline hubs where the airlines have overscheduled to near gridlock. The nation’s busiest 35 airports, predominantly airline hubs, receive a majority of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) funds and resources. At these airports, GA accounts for only six percent of total operations.
General aviation contributed over $800 million in trust fund taxes in 2006 even though our operations are marginal at the busiest airports. For example, at John F. Kennedy, Newark, and LaGuardia airports where four out of ten flights are delayed, GA represents only 2.6 percent of all flights. The IPS/EA study itself acknowledges (p. 21), “Increased Flight Delays: Corporate Jets Not Primary Cause,” yet curiously, it places this section under the overall heading of “The Cost to Other Travelers.”
The general aviation industry currently pays its fair share of the costs of the air traffic control system through hefty fuel taxes imposed on piston fuel called AvGas and turbine jet fuel. In an effort to speed the modernization of the antiquated ATC system in the U.S., the general aviation industry has expressed to Congress its willingness to pay an even higher fuel tax. This commitment to "pony up for modernization" was made despite the fact that the airlines refuse to pay any more taxes to improve the current ATC system. GA industry support has been nearly universal for the current FAA reauthorization proposal in the House and the Senate that would increase general aviation’s contribution by over 36 percent, or an additional $290 million, while the airlines will contribute no additional new money.
The report also claims, among many other charges, that “small planes are by far the most polluting method of transportation.” The IPS/EA report here stretches the truth far beyond credibility. General aviation is, and has been, an integral part of our nation’s transportation system and economy since the early part of the 20th century, and it provides the only air service to nearly 5,000 communities in the United States. It does this while contributing less than two-tenths of one percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions, notwithstanding IPS/EA's facile and misleading comparisons with hybrid cars and transcontinental trips. Furthermore, the general aviation industry is investing heavily in technology to further mitigate its relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Improved aerodynamic designs, more use of lightweight composites, improved engines and avionics all contribute to improve upon this industry's powerful record of technological advancements, which resulted in a 50 percent improvement in specific fuel consumption (and thus emissions) for business jet engines since they were first introduced during the 1960s.
The IPS/EA report is equally misleading as it attacks general aviation for everything from tax incentives for the industry, to endangering national security, to damaging “social cohesion.” Not surprisingly, its proposed remedies amount to taxing general aviation until it disappears. The authors of the report, so concerned about “social cohesion,” do not show that they have a clue about risk based transportation security, tax incentives that stimulate manufacturing and business that in-turn creates jobs and therefore proportionally larger tax revenues, or even the slightest idea where the increased number of general aviation aircraft produced are actually flying.
IPS/EA liberally uses GAMA's production numbers and makes assumptions that all these aircraft are destined for use in the U.S.. Had they done any scholarly research they would have realized that the majority of the orders for business aircraft today are coming from overseas where the rest of the world is waking up to the economic utility of general aviation. Those orders from overseas customers are creating more high quality, high paying jobs for Americans and help make aviation manufacturing one of the only bright spots in the U.S. manufacturing economy and the balance of trade.
“This report will get its 24 hour news cycle and then be retired to the trash can as uninformed slander of one of America’s most dynamic manufacturing industries, a contributor to quality jobs and growing export markets, and a form of transportation that is safe, secure and avoids airline created congestion, while providing travel options where airline service is contracting or is non-existent," said GAMA's President and CEO, Pete Bunce.
GAMA is an international trade association headquartered in Washington, DC representing over 60 of the world's leading manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, engines, avionics and related equipment. GAMA's members also operate fleets of aircraft, fixed based operations, and pilot training and maintenance training facilities. For additional information, visit GAMA’s website at www.GAMA.aero.