HAI — and General Aviation Pilots Nationwide — Need Your Help!

A call for help from Helicopter Association International.

As most pilots should know, the U.S. government is attempting to pass legislation which would, in effect, fund the repeated airline financial bailouts with money collect from general aviation pilots and operators. This will directly affect my business, as well as other small aviation operators. It will also raise the costs on many general aviation services, including, as HAI points out, EMS helicopter transportation and firefighting. These are the services that rush people outside of big cities to hospitals when they have heart attacks or serious car accidents and protect our homes from forest and brush fires.

Here’s an e-mail I just got from HAI. It not only explains the problem, but offers a toll-free number you can use to call your Senators and voice your opposition to user fees.

Congress has reached a critical stage in drafting a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). U.S. Senate draft bill, S. 1300, establishes a new $25 per-flight “user fee” for all turbine powered planes as well as more stringent requirements for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operators. The way the current draft is written, helicopters would not be exempt from this “surcharge”. This legislation will be considered and voted upon by the Senate Commerce Committee THIS WEDNESDAY May 16. It is critically important that you contact your Senator TODAY to tell them to support an Amendment to the Senate Commerce FAA bill to remove “user fees” from S. 1300.

Every voice counts, and your voice needs to be heard in Washington. You joined Helicopter Association International (HAI) for a reason. Helping you to sustain your operations and keeping you abreast of important legislative and regulatory changes is one of the most important jobs HAI performs as your advocate before Congress.

If you have never picked up the phone to make a call on an important issue, now is the time for you to start. HAI has partnered with the Alliance for Aviation Across America, and we’ve made it easier than ever to contact your Senator. The message you need to send to your Senator: ask them to support an amendment to the Senate Commerce FAA bill to remove “user fees” and “surcharges” from S. 1300. Tell your Senator you oppose a federal fuel tax increase for helicopters. Existing helicopter fuel fax exemptions for logging, firefighting, EMS, as well as offshore oil and gas exploration should be preserved.

Please call toll-free 1-866-908-5898 to be automatically connected to your Senator’s office. You may hear a few seconds of dead air while you are being connected. Keep calling. Tell your friends and business associates to call too. Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) serves on the Commerce Committee and it is especially important that he hear directly from HAI members and the families behind the 650+ helicopters in the Gulf.

There is still time for Senators to stand up for small businesses, small towns, and general aviation by sponsoring this important amendment and listening to the voices of their constituents and the helicopter operators affected by requirements contained in S. 1300. Every vote on our side at the May 16 Commerce Committee hearing brings general aviation that much closer to defeating this legislation. The big airlines’ lobbyists will succeed in pushing their costs on general aviation unless our industry acts.

Be informed. Check HAI’s website, www.rotor.com for important updates on the EMS requirements. HAI is working for you on issues of importance to our industry. Make that call today!

Personally, I can’t understand why the U.S. government continues to subsidize airlines that cannot remain profitable. Why is it that some airlines are able to be profitable and others can’t be? Could it be the top-heavy management and huge compensation packages? And why should U.S. citizens subsidize bad financial management with tax dollars?

It is unfair for the government to shift the burden of commercial aviation bailouts to small aviation operators and private pilots. Please — even if you don’t fly or know a pilot — please call or write your Senator to tell him/her that you oppose general aviation user fees and tax hikes.

What do you think?