OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - The Experimental Aircraft Association has reached an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration over air traffic control fees during its annual convention, the EAA said Friday.
The nine-year agreement will provide air traffic control services on a consistent basis through 2022 for AirVenture, the organization said.
Last year, the FAA told EAA officials that the cost for 87 air traffic controllers and supervisors to come to Oshkosh for AirVenture would be nearly $448,000. The EAA signed a one-year agreement under protest and asked a federal appeals court to review the payments. That petition was still pending.
The EAA said the organization was facing the same uncertainty for this year’s event, since the FAA’s plan was to continue to charge for air traffic control services at the air show. An FAA spokeswoman said last year that automatic federal budget cuts forced it to seek payment for the costs.
“Our ultimate goal was to bring certainty and stability for AirVenture, for EAA and our fellow members,” EAA board Chairman Jack Pelton said in a statement Friday. “Every possible option, from contract and volunteer controllers to canceling AirVenture entirely, was considered.”
Under the agreement, the FAA will provide air traffic control and other personnel for AirVenture as in past years, with the EAA covering the cost of travel, accommodations and other expenses. If the EAA finds a better solution for providing a high standard of air traffic control services at Oshkosh, the organization can use that option with FAA support.
The EAA had asked the appeals court to review the legality of FAA’s assessment of the air traffic control fees and reimburse them. The EAA maintained the fees were imposed without the standard notice and comment procedure from the FAA, making it procedurally improper and unlawful.
The FAA said Friday it is pleased with the settlement.
“The agreement is consistent with FAA policy that requires operators to reimburse the FAA for some of the costs incurred in sending controllers, technicians and equipment in support of special events that draw a significant increase in air traffic, such as air shows, and sporting events,” the agency said.
U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., whose district includes Oshkosh, said in a statement he still questions the FAA’s authority to charge for air show costs, but said, “I’m glad this moves things forward for the time being as we look for a more permanent resolution.”
The AirVenture convention draws tens of thousands of pilots and aviation enthusiasts to Oshkosh each summer and is one of the nation’s biggest air shows. This year, it takes place July 28 through Aug. 3.
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