Why the White House Thinks We Need Aviation User Fees

Written by Lara

This email just went out to everyone who signed the “Take Aviation User Fees off the table” petition at the White House’s new We the People site:

PD New Beginning

Why We Need Aviation User Fees

By Dana Hyde, Associate Director for General Government Programs, Office of Management and Budget

Thank you for signing the petition “Take Aviation User Fees Off the Table.” We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on and your concerns about user fees in a challenging economy.

In a challenging budget environment, the Obama Administration believes it’s essential that those who benefit from our world-class aviation system help pay for its ongoing operation. And we want to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. For example, under current law, a large commercial aircraft flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco pays between twenty-one and thirty-three times the fuel taxes paid by a corporate jet flying the same route and using the same FAA air traffic services. This is why the Administration proposed to establish a new surcharge for air traffic services.

The proposed $100 per flight fee would generate an estimated $11 billion over 10 years, reducing the deficit and more equitably sharing the cost of air traffic services across the aviation user community. All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted.

We appreciate your petition’s acknowledgment that there needs to be an increased user contribution to aviation system funding in the current fiscal climate, and we recognize that some would prefer to raise the tax rate on aviation fuel. At the same time, we have concluded that a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service.

As we work to get our Nation back on a sustainable fiscal path, the Administration is making tough choices across the Federal budget and asking everyone to do their fair share. We recognize these shared sacrifices are not easy, but together with investments in our economic growth and job creation, they will make us stronger and more competitive for the future. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Congress and the aviation stakeholder community on this issue, and thank you again for your constructive input.

Check out this response on We the People.

So what do you think? Will we be seeing an extra $100 fee onto every skydiving load? Would that make you switch sports to paragliding, BASE jumping, or ground launching?


  • I hate to speculate how many jobs will be lost because of increased jump fees.  This would apply not only to Skydiving, but sight seeing as well.  Of course it will put maintenance and other support folks on the street.  I’m all for Hope and Change.  I hope we change our president — Soon.  He personifies “Clear And Present Danger”.

    • Yep, lets all remember that 99% of all sight seeing, heli skiing, and utility helicopters are also turbine driven. This is just an attempt to raise money without putting pressure on the major airlines, who of course have lobbied the heck out of Washington. It is thoughtlessness which is to blame for how this seemingly small fee to private jet owners and airlines might actually affect other industries that $100 a flight means a lot to. That is what happens when you have people making laws who don’t know what they are talking about and only the well funded voices are heard.

      I doubt any of them considered that a sight seeing helo might make 10 flights a day, and only for 20 or 30 minutes each time; or that a jump plane might make 20 flights a day for 20 minutes or less each flight. And which takes more energy from air traffic control, a 747 that spends 6 hours in the air and crosses 50 different controlled areas or a Cessna 208 that circles a tiny airport for 20 minutes? And they are to be charged the same thing? Seems a lot less fair than the fuel tax. Especially when that 747 in one flight has made tens of thousands of dollars in profit and a jump plane is only making $20 or $30 per flight.

      And thats not all, because the numbers required to get a jump plane off the ground would increase, flights might not even happen at all if there aren’t enough people to fill every load. For example, at one drop zone that flies a Cessna 208 they need 7 people to make it fly. With this fee, each of those 7’s ticket would go from 24 to 39 dollars. And if you wanted to get airborne for the same ticket price the new minium number needed to fly would be 12. So if there aren’t 12 people there for every load, or the 7 don’t want to pay more than 50% extra, the plane wont get off the ground, and the drop zone doesn’t make “less” money, they don’t make any at all. Meanwhile the 747 or Gulfstream that cost more than $100 just to fire up don’t even notice the new fee, heck, it could be $1,000 a flight for a lot of them and it wouldn’t make any difference.

  • Why give them more money when they cannot properly manage what they already have? Taking in more money does not teach them to use it wisely…it’s just more momey to misappropriate.

  • I don’t quite understand the problem. Do you guys jump out of jets very often? “All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted.”

    • Just because it has a propeller doesn’t mean it is a piston aircraft, and yes, many of the most popular jump planes are turbine (jet) driven. Cessna 208, Twin Otter, Shorts Sky Van, etc. This is precisely the problem, people weighing in who have no idea what they are talking about. I doubt many people in Congress or the White House have a real appreciation of what this new fee really means.

  • I liked the article and thought it sensible. Then I saw “will this push people to…” and lost all respect. Wtf. People who BASE for cost reasons are retard
    ed for a start….. Uh where to start and finish… Fuck it too tired.

  • I don’t think it is a piston vs. turbine issue.  I think it would be the public vs. commercial aircraft.
    Since skydiving is considered a commercial venture I do not think we would be exempt.
    Adding $100 to a plane that has 20 jumpers ($5 / jumper) might hurt but may be tolerable but adding to a plane that only has 4 jumpers would just about double the cost.  Though I would not stop jumping it sure would slow me down.

  • They talk about being fair, then blithely ignore the fact that “a flight” could contain from one to hundreds of passengers, and could last from several minutes to many hours in length.  I think they’re more interested in reducing their budget than in fairness.

  • Honestly, if you look at the exclusions (“piston engine”, etc) this is pretty much aimed squarely at hurting “business aviation”, and in particular the private and corporate jets the President keeps talking about. Unfortunately, a lot of other aviation winds up lumped under that broad heading that is not exactly a bunch of fat-cats jetting around the country, but a bunch of people trying to make a living in an industry that does not have a lot of margin to absorb random cost increases.

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