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AirVenture fees dispute

11 July 2013

The Experimental Aircraft Association has filed a petition contesting the FAA-imposed air traffic controller (ATC) fees for its upcoming AirVenture show.

The EAA filed the petition with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago on Wednesday last week (3 July).

The FAA notifed the EAA in May that it would have to pay $447,000 to cover the cost of 87 air traffic controllers at the AirVenture show which is taking place in Oshkosh on 29 July to 4 August.

The EAA maintains that "the fees were imposed without standard notice and comment procedure from the FAA, making it procedurally improper and unlawful".

In June, reports indicated that the EAA had agreed to pay the $447,000 charge - but even then the EAA Chairman Jack J. Pelton made it clear that the association felt that it had been 'held hostage' by the FAA and warned: "As far as we're concerned, this isn't over. We entered this agreement only because there was no other realistic choice to preserve aviation's largest annual gathering."

Now, it seems that the EAA feels that the law courts do offer a "realistic choice" after all.

 In an official EAA statement published on 3 July, Pelton commented: "While we understand the FAA's position and the temptation to augment its congressional appropriation, we naturally don't agree since we believe this approach unlawfully circumvents congressional approval and standard due process."

Pelton's next claim may set alarm ring bells ring in event planners' offices across the United States: "This affects AirVenture and numerous other aviation events throughout the nation  [ShowMeTransport's italics] in an unauthorized and unjustified manner. That is why we are seeking review, relief, and clarification from the court."

As part of the petition, EAA is asking the court to reverse the FAA's decision to seek these payments, as well as the return of fees already paid and other costs incurred.


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