Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The president of the Minnesota Aviation Trades Association (MATA), Greg Reigel, along with Joe Hedrick from the Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA) and Gordon Hoff, Executive Director of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA), made their annual trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with Minnesota’s Congressional delegates. On March 21 and 22, Reigel, Hedrick and Hoff met with Representatives Nolan, Peterson, Paulsen and Emmer, as well as staff members from the offices of the remaining delegates.
In their meetings, they discussed the new administration’s call for privatization of the nation’s Air Traffic Control System, and explained the adverse impact it would have on general aviation. They stressed the need for the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress to retain oversight of the Air Traffic Control system. Although not perfect, the existing system is working and improving. Additionally, the group noted the risk that privatization would result in a decrease in investment in research and development, as well as rural airports.
Reigel, Hedrick and Hoff also emphasized the need for a multi-year reauthorization that will sustain funding for multi-year projects, and reiterated the industry’s frustration with the last reauthorization and the adverse impact it had on the industry, as a result of multiple continuing resolutions that were required before final reauthorization was passed. They stressed the need for certainty to facilitate airport construction projects in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Continuation of Essential Air Service (EAS) for rural communities that need assistance to keep commercial air service at their airports was also stressed. EAS provides accessibility to the National Airspace System (NAS), promotes business development in rural areas, and is entirely funded by use of the NAS.
In each of their meetings, the association representatives discussed the shortage of pilots and aircraft technicians and how these shortages are already impacting general aviation. To that end, they highlighted how tuition assistance may help address the decline in pilots and aircraft technicians and encouraged the delegates to find ways to provide additional incentives to increase the supply of qualified aviation professionals.
The group also discussed the ongoing confusion with the Internal Revenue Service’s attempt to impose federal excise tax (FET) on aircraft management services. They observed that aircraft management services are not “air transportation,” and as such, should not be subject to FET. They urged delegates to support pending legislation to exempt aircraft management services from FET.
Finally, the group discussed the FAA’s recently organized Regulatory Consistency Communications Board and encouraged delegates to support the FAA’s initiative and create a Master Source Guidance System as quickly as possible.
In closing, Reigel, Hedrick and Hoff thanked those delegates who are already members of the General Aviation Caucus for their participation, and encouraged those who are not to consider joining. The conversations were productive and the delegates and their staffs all recognized the importance of general aviation to both the economy and the National Air Transportation System. The group looks forward to working with delegates in the future to support and grow general aviation in Minnesota.