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Member Update: Initiative to Economically Regulate FBOs
Early in 2017, the FAA requested NATA comment upon documents provided to the agency by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) asserting that FBOs and airports are maximizing their respective revenue streams in a manner that is unfair to pilots. 

In response to the initial allegations, NATA presented a state of the aviation business sector overview to the FAA. The overview, developed with the assistance of FBO and air charter members, discusses the costs of operating airport businesses and the many variables that go into determining its pricing structure — including capital invested, lease duration, fuel volume, personnel expenses, hours of operation, and traffic types. The FAA is in the process of reviewing comments from other stakeholders and will contact us should they have any follow-up questions.

On March 30th, AOPA subsequently announced it will request the FAA either require FBOs to provide access to ramps and facilities or airports to provide pilots with free public ramp space. The announcement chose to attack the FAA for requesting comment on AOPA’s call for economic regulation of FBOs and even criticized NATA for bringing AOPA’s eleven-month campaign to the attention of the aviation business community and other industry stakeholders. Despite claims to the contrary, AOPA's documents likens FBOs to public utilities and requests the agency examine oversight mechanisms in other industries as possible models — a pure and straightforward move toward economic regulation — borne out by its March 30th announcement.

Importantly, there are existing FAA mechanisms to address situations where an FBO or airport is violating grant assurance requirements to furnish services on a “reasonable, and not unjustly discriminatory, basis to all users thereof.” Neither NATA nor its members support those violating that important assurance, which would also represent a breach of faith with their customers.

On August 28th, AOPA released an article announcing the filing of three Part 13 complaints alleging “egregious FBO pricing practices” at Florida’s Key West International Airport (EYW), Illinois’s Waukegan National Airport (UGN), and North Carolina’s Asheville Regional Airport (AVL).

NATA then issued a press release informing the general aviation community that we sent letters to the Orlando Airports District Office, Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Memphis Airports District Office in response to the assertions made in the Part 13 complaints.

The assertions made in these complaints reflect a misunderstanding of a number of key points related to the economics of aviation businesses: the pricing of aeronautical services, industry consolidation and the airport sponsor-tenant relationship.

The general aviation community has questioned the necessity of this campaign, as illustrated in three recent articles that discuss the initiative’s intellectual underpinnings.  The articles conclude that FBO pricing has evolved not as a way to maximize revenue from pilots, but rather in response to the changing reality of general aviation.

NATA will continue to meet rhetoric with facts in support of free enterprise and will remain the leading voice of aviation business.

Safety 1st Fuel QC Management System – Breakthrough Tool Enhancing Industry Safety and Efficiency
NATA's Safety 1st Fuel QC Management System (FQMS), a cloud-based digital tool for general and business aviation fuel quality management inspections, record keeping and auditing. The Safety 1st FQMS replaces traditional pen and paper record keeping with an intelligent system that increases management visibility, employee accountability and operational safety. Key features include digital storage and access to all quality control (QC) records; an easy-to-use, mobile-optimized inspection platform; and Compliance Sentry technology that provides a 24-7 eye on your QC system. Location and date/time-stamping of inspections increases team accountability by enabling managers to verify where and when inspections were performed. Read more.


Update 2018 FAA Authorization Legislation


On February 27, 2018, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster notified Capitol Hill that he would
work on an FAA reauthorization bill that does not include a proposal to privatize air traffic control. In his announcement, Chairman Shuster committed to work with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune to “move forward with a reauthorization bill to provide long-term stability for the FAA.”

Upon the announcement, NATA President Marty Hiller applauded Chairman Shuster’s decision to put differences aside and work with the Senate to pass a comprehensive, long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that provides needed stability for the agency. “This is a victory for the general aviation industry, and our success is due to the hard work and collaboration of our members across the country who wrote, called and met with their Members of Congress to explain the detrimental impact this proposal would have on the industry,” stated Hiller. Hiller also recognized the work of the association’s allies on Capitol Hill as well as those who collaborated with NATA in a coordinated industry effort.

Your Help is Still Needed:

general aviation achieved a victory over ATC privatization, there are other issues in the House FAA reauthorization bill that also impact the community. NATA, in coordination with our policy committees, is working to mitigate the potential negative consequences of:

   - A proposal to eliminate the barrier between private and commercial pilots and flights
   - An existing provision related to air ambulances
   - Issues related to aircraft registration

Next Steps:

The FAA’s current authorization expires on March 31st, therefore a short-term funding extension is anticipated. NATA will continue to work with Chairmen Shuster and Thune, and Congress on a bipartisan reauthorization bill that provides stable FAA funding and maintains the United States’ status as the world’s safest air space system. 

For more information about this and other issues related to the FAA please contact Rebecca Mulholland, Director of Legislative Affairs, at rmulholland@nata.aero