Yesterday this bill moved up the proposed date for NextGen being fully implemented from 2025 to 2018 at an estimated cost of $40,500,000,000 (it looks bigger if you show it in purely numbers) or about $133 per every single person in the US. This is just for funding in 2010 and 2011. That is about 12 times Garmin's annual revenues (I'm not advocating a BUY here... just having fun with the numbers, but I got in at $23.65) ...
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) is the Transportation Committee Chairman. He states (since he is a Senator, it has to be factual) that general aviation has 2/3 of all planes in the sky but only pays 8 percent of the cost of the ATC system. This, according to John, is not right and general aviation "should pay their fair share." As a private pilot (and a general aviation user) I selfishly don't want the costs to be "distributed fairly." We don't do that with our tax code (see last paragraph) ... why start doing that with aviation? In reality, if the fee's are placed on "ATC usage" or in other words, per aircraft using ATC, then the cost per passenger will increase dramatically for general aviation and decrease dramatically for commercial air service. What this will do is force more general aviation pilots to not use ATC. This can be done now by simply filing a flight plan (granted you can only fly VFR--Visual Flight Rules. But you can fly up to 18,000' MSL, far below commercial aircraft, and inefficient for any jet). Will this create more chaos in the skies, avoiding a fee by not filing a flight plan? What about in Alaska and the Rockies where ATC is out of reach?
Another point is that ADS-B equipment is required for each airplane on the NextGen system. At a cost of thousands of dollars (I'm guessing at minimum $10,000), will the weekend flyer be required to upgrade? If they don't upgrade and they aren't part of the NextGen system, do they have to pay? Most likely they will require it for flights above 18,000' MSL, but something to think about ...
In my business, I take current revenues, save them and invest in new technology. Since the government is more efficient than small business owners, where are all the monies from the past x years of PFCs and taxes from the aviation sector? Let's take those dollars and use it for NextGen.
Tax Code analogy (i.e. the "last paragraph"):
So currently (in other words), 92 percent of all ATC costs are paid by 1/3 of all the planes. Hmmm. According to the "IRS, Statistics of Income, 2008" 86 percent of all taxes are paid by 25 percent of the top income earners.
So why would a democrat have everyone pay their fair share? I'm 100 percent in support of "fair share," if we do it for our taxes too. Make it a flat tax and a flat ATC usage fee.