That CNN article just makes me angry. As a general aviation pilot I'm dismayed at the FAA's poor money management and eager willingness to pass the blame to general aviation. How the hell do small fields get away with using millions of dollars of Federal Homeland Security money when they see no passenger service? I suppose this has much to do with the inane paranoia (both government and public) surrounding general aviation in the days and weeks after 9-11. It seems to me that small general aviation fields, like small towns are very aware of newcomers and strangers, unlike ORD, LAX, JFK, or ATL. I suppose sometimes a close knit family is better security than a $500,000 X-ray machine.
Certainly, corporations will find ways and loopholes to have their jets avoid user fees, but I see only people who own or rent light props carrying most of the burden of this new proposal. Certainly when the FAA grounds most light prop owners with high costs or has people making dangerous visual flights in an effort to avoid IFR approach fees they will sooner or later reap what they sewed in this cosmic mess.
I think this is an issue that hits home on this site, because airlines, in lieu of disastrously poor levels of service over the past 6 years and record losses are trying once again to nickel and dime the very services in which they depend on and pass the bill along to the guy that can least afford it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but all commercial airline flights fly IFR (one thing that the CNN article fails to present) and as we all know, IFR has very stringent limitations on clearances and spacing which take their toll in severe delays and cancellations at airline hubs during wide spread IMC.
Furthermore, flight training, which is already impossibly expensive would become even more expensive through user fees. I think if the FAA starts charging for flight plans, ATC services, etc. you will see less and less students practicing flying actual flight plans, approaches, etc. let alone using ATC services if not required (but certainly necessary for safety). I think you'd probably see less and less private flight school students period. I guess starting pay ain't going up at the regionals with all the money the airlines will be saving by passing the buck. I feel that the only reason why there are only a handful of actual pilots in this country is because the cost of training is extremely inhibiting as it is... not because of any lack of interest.
I feel that if there are going to be user fees, it's only fair that everyone pay higher taxes on fuel and for usage of ATC service, not just general aviation. So certainly the more ATC resources you use, the more you pay.
Surely if I'm wrong in my assessment please point it out.
Ok I've said my piece.