12:40 PM

ANN is Yanking
Our Chain...or
Are They?

Every year on this most foolish of days, Aero News Network runs a bunch of April Fool's stories that are absolutely hilarious. I love to scan them and start my day with a belly laugh, but one of them really got me thinking. Remember fans, this is only a joke...or is it?

AOPA Settles With FAA On User Fees

Aero-News has learned that intense negotiations between officials of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have resulted in an end to the long impasse over user fees on general aviation. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who's been involved in the talks, said the negotiations reached a turning point when AOPA proposed splitting the air traffic control system at 18,000 feet MSL, with the flight levels and airline hub airports to be administered by the FAA, and the lower altitudes and smaller airports regulated by AOPA. The compromise means most airline traffic will operate under FAA control, and most small GA aircraft will fly within the AOPA system.
Yes, at first glance, this is just ANN having fun with words. Of course AOPA has no intentions of going into the Air Traffic Control business, but there are things in this faux article worth considering, if only in theory [my two cents worth here]:
Since the bulk of us GA pilots plod along below the "flight levels", maybe that FL180 ceiling should indeed be the floor for airplanes controlled by the FAA. Maybe some other agency would be better suited to control the slower, non-pressurized crowd below 18,000 MSL. At least placing the dividing line between small iron and big iron at FL180 would sure make it easy to see who needs to pay more for FAA ATC services.
Now before NBAA goes ballistic on me saying this is a call for user fees above FL180, it is not. What is is though is a call for NO USER FEES below FL180! I would not be the first to throw the theory out there that maybe those who do fly high and fast need to stay in the dogfight against the FAA on user fees, and those who fly below that altitude should be immediately waivered from any future user fees.

Just food for thought, nothing more. But it sorta kinda actually makes sense that those flying up high in $58 million dollar Gulfstream G650s could perhaps pay more to use the ATC system then a gal dinking around the countryside chasing hamburgers in her Luscumbe. We already know that the G650 guy has already paid a boatload of EXTRA FUEL TAXES is in fact already paying much more to use the system, proving once again that the current system of funding FAA is working just fine.

A few other notable April Fool's articles from ANN include these gems:

A380 Under Fire by 'Green' Lobby

Boeing Throws In The Towel On 787

NBAA Acquires EAA

Surprise Merger Stuns Airline Industry

FAA (Acting) Administrator Busts Camp David TFR

TSA's Hawley Encounters Screening, Boarding Difficulties At BWI

Teledyne Continental Motors Unveils Biodiesel Project

AOPA's Boyer Added To Blakey's 'MySpace' Friends List

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