Aviation Posts

Brad’s Testimony Before U.S. Congress – Aviation User Fees

I recently had the honor of testifying before the U.S. Congress Committee on Small Business regarding aviation user fees.  The hearing was entitled, User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead, and took place on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in Washington, DC.  This hearing was initiated by Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO), who is Chairman of the committee.  The purpose of this hearing was to discuss the impact on small businesses of an additional $100 per flight fee proposed by the Obama administration.  I was speaking to the committee on behalf of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

My testimony focused on the important role general aviation has played to help build my business, increase our sales despite a sluggish economy, and hire additional employees.  I own and operate a Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft which I can honestly say is one of my absolute best employees.  It allows myself and my staff members to travel quickly, safely and efficiently to customer locations, industry events and to manufacturing partner facilities.  I’ve flown my Cirrus to 49 states in pursuit of new business and to nurture and grow existing relationships successfully.  We simply could not do what we do without our airplane.

The current system of taxation is based upon fuel consumption, ie: each gallon of fuel purchased has a federal excise tax included, which congress has the ability to adjust if necessary.  This is a straightforward taxation method (perhaps the most simple and effective in our government), wherein those who fly more tend to burn more fuel and therefore pay more taxes.  I fly a lot, a whole lot.  I fly far (nationwide), I burn a lot of fuel, and I pay a lot more taxes than an individual who’s making small regional flights burning less fuel.  That makes sense – I’m going further distances and using more services, therefore I should be paying more into the system and am happy to do so.  The system works, it’s not broken, so this feels very much like a solution looking for a problem to solve.

The Obama administration has proposed that each flight should be charged an additional $100 user fee on top of the current excise fuel tax.  This makes no sense to me as there’s no direct correlation between usage and the proposed new taxation method.  There’s been a position among some proponents that this is “fair” because everyone pays the same additional equal amount.  Each aircraft paying an equal amount however is not “fair”.  The aviation infrastructure was built for the commercial airlines, not for the general aviation sector.  For instance, when I landed my Cirrus at Washington’s Dulles International Airport to attend this hearing, I landed on an 11,500 foot runway that was 150 feet wide and several feet deep of concrete.  This runway wasn’t built for my Cirrus or many other general aviation planes, it was built to handle heavy airliners.  I needed only a fraction of the available runway (length, width and depth) to land safely.  Saying that the cost of that runway (that’s part of our aviation infrastructure) should be split “fairly” and “equally” between both of us would be like going out to dinner and ordering a salad while your friend gets a five course meal then suggests it’s “fair” and “equal” to split the check down the middle.  It just doesn’t make sense.

In addition to the inequality I demonstrated above, another important factor to recognize is the massive infrastructure that would need to be put into place in the government to administer and collect from a user fee based system.  We’d effectively create a whole new bureaucracy, aptly referred to by many in the aviation industry to be named the SKY-R-S.  This new administration could raise fees (taxes) at any time without congressional approval which is a very dangerous proposition.  Given the vast amount of resources and personnel needed for such a program, it’s highly probably an increase in fees would be necessary just to cover this additional overhead.

Equally troublesome is the thought of having to dedicate additional resources and manpower within my own small business for the accounting function of auditing, paying, and handling these fees.  This money would add expense (beyond the flat $100 fee) to our operations which could better be spent growing our business and helping our customers grow their businesses. There is no need to add this additional burden to businesses who are already needing to be laser focused on efficiencies to compete effectively.

I invite you to watch the video presentation of the full hearing for a better understanding of this issue and all of the various points presented.  I was truly honored to be among an esteemed panel of individuals, most notably Martha King of King Schools, who did a phenomenal job expressing her position on behalf of the NBAA.  (As a side note, both John and Martha King are incredibly warm and wonderful people.  I can’t express how much I enjoyed getting to know them and was honored to testify along with Martha).  As you watch the video during the question and answer period, you may notice there was a brief tense moment between myself and the ranking Congresswoman on the committee.  Due to the phrasing of her question, I simply could not allow myself to advocate writing a “blank check” proclaiming that we should should raise aviation taxes.  I feel this is a more complex issue (including the numerous reasons I stated above) and that it’s necessary to look into the details and implications further.  I was clear in my answer however that if congress votes to increase aviation taxes, I would prefer for it to be done in the form of the existing excise fuel tax method instead of by creating new user fees.  While it was slightly uncomfortable to be in disagreement, I’m glad that I chose to stand up for my beliefs and not agree with a position I did not fully support.

I hope that each person reading this narrative will recognize that you too can make a difference when it comes to government and legislation.  I’m a normal guy who operates a small business and uses a general aviation aircraft to grow my business.  I’m not an aviation legend or a household name, but I stepped forward to support my beliefs and genuinely feel like I made a difference.  I invite each of you to do the same, contact your Congressmen and Senators.  Express your concern and let them hear your story of how aviation user fees will affect your business.  Together, we can make a difference and get user fees off the table once and for good.

Lastly, I would like to give a very special thanks to the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as well as to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).  Both of these organizations work diligently on behalf of the general aviation industry and do a phenominal job.  I’ve gotten to know many of the staff members and leaders from both organizations and can adamantly say they are among the best, brightest and most dedicated people I’ve ever known.  They care about all interests in general aviation, both big and small, and I’m honored to be a member of both organizations.   I would also like to thank Congressman Sam Graves for initiating this hearing, along with the respected Congressional leaders who attended and participated in it.  Their time and energy invested was greatly appreciated and I was honored to have the opportunity to speak before them regarding this important issue.

Links to More Information and Resources:

User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead – Hearing Information

User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead – Brad Pierce – Testimony

User Fees in the Aviation Industry: Turbulence Ahead – Video of Hearing

 

Join Brad at the 2012 AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs

I’ve been asked to speak again at this year’s 2012 AOPA Aviation Summit which will be held October 11-13th in Palm Springs, California.

I’ll be a panelist on an educational seminar entitled “Light Business Airplane Conference: Mission Critical: Using Aviation to Grow Your Business”This seminar is being presented as a collaboration between the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).  It will be moderated by Mike Nichols who is the Vice President of Operations, Education, and Economics for NBAA.

The focus of this seminar pertains to using general aviation airplanes for your business needs.  Myself and the other panelists will explain exactly how we’ve used our airplanes to grow our companies and enhance our lives.  I can honestly say that our company wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our Turbo SR22 Cirrus Aircraft and the huge advantage it’s provided to us over our competition.  Information presented will be packed with real world experience showing how using GA in your business is not only possible, but will be a game changer for your organization.  There will also be plenty of time for Q&A to get answers from panelists and the NBAA regarding business aviation usage.

Mark your calender to spend October 11-13th in Palm Springs, California with myself and other aviation enthusiasts and professionals for a fantastic event you won’t want to miss.  My particular panel session will be held on Saturday, October 13, 2012 from 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM in the Mojave room at the convention center.

You can register for the 2012 AOPA Aviation Summit by visiting http://www.aopa.org/summit/.

You can learn more about the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) by visiting http://www.nbaa.org/.

 

Cleared for Take-off: Alaska and Hawaii Landings this Summer

Last year I reached my goal of landing in all 48 continental United States in my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft.  It was truly an incredible journey flying coast to coast across our great country, but something was missing.  That something was Alaska and Hawaii – the final two states I need to visit to complete my expanded goal of landing in every state, not just those in the continental US.  I’m thrilled to announce I’ve decided to go for it!  Life’s too short to sit on the sidelines, so this summer I’ll be flying from Florida to Alaska.  The flight will take 36 hours round-trip and cover roughly 6,600 miles.  After departing Anchorage, I’ll sit back and relax as a passenger going across the Pacific to Hawaii to pick up another Cirrus in Maui.  The following day will be filled with a magnificent flight enjoying the sights of the Hawaiian islands from above… and of course, my final landing to complete my 50 state adventure!  Stay tuned for more updates as I make this goal a reality in just a few short months.

Brad’s NBAA Flight Plan Interviews: BARR Fight Victory!

In March of 2011, the Department of Transportation made a shocking change which eliminated the Blocked Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.  The BARR system enabled personal and corporate aircraft operators such as myself to block tracking of our aircraft so that they couldn’t be tracked by anonymous users with nothing more than a web browser.  Once dismantled, competitors and random people online could see every move we made in our aircraft, the equivalent of allowing someone to go online and see the movements of every road you take and location you visit in your personal or company vehicle.  Obviously, this not only caused quite a stir in the aviation industry, but also had much larger implications for society as a whole if this same principal of complete online visibility was applied in the future to other types of vehicles.  Our basic right to privacy had been eliminated, but fortunately, there were numerous industry groups ready to battle this misguided move by our government.  Among those groups were the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association), the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) and the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).

Throughout the course of the BARR fight, I spoke with numerous media outlets to help explain why this change was a poor decision and how it would affect small businesses such as my own.  I was also in contact with numerous political leaders, urging them to work towards reversing this wrong that had been committed against so many people and businesses such as my own.

On November 17th of 2011, I got an early Christmas present when I received word that the BARR fight was over – WE WERE VICTORIOUS!  I was absolutely thrilled to say the least.  Congress stepped in and reinstated the BARR program which sent a clear message that the rights of privacy were still important to the American people and businesses.

I certainly very thankful and appreciative to each of the aviation industry organizations who worked so diligently to protect the rights of aircraft owners and operators everywhere.  I’m also very appreciative of our elected leaders who did the right thing by ensuring the privacy of the citizens and businesses they represent remains protected.

Interview #1

After the victory was announced, I was honored to be interviewed for NBAA’s Flight Plan Podcast with host Pete Combs. You can read a full article, Congress Reinstates the BARR – What’s Next? by clicking here.   At the bottom of the article there’s the full audio portion of the interview.  I’ve also included a link directly to the audio interview here for your convenience.

Read the Full Article at the NBAA Site:  Congress Reinstates the BARR – What’s Next?
Listen to the Full Audio Interview:  Listen Now

Interview #2

Additionally, as a follow-up to this story, Pete Combs did another segment during his 2011 year in review series.  You can read the full article, BARR Battle Figured Prominently for Industry in 2011 by clicking here.  At the bottom of the article there’s the full audio portion of the interview.  I’ve also included a link directly to the audio interview here for your convenience.

Read the Full Article at the NBAA Site:  BARR Battle Figured Prominently for Industry in 2011
Listen to the Full Audio Interview:  Listen Now

Thanks again to everyone who worked so diligently to make this victory possible!

My New Bose A20 Aviation Headsets Are Fantastic!

  

I literally spend hundreds of hours a year in the cockpit of my Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft, so using a good quiet headset makes my frequent flights even more enjoyable.  I’ve always really liked my Bose Aviation X headsets which I purchased with my first Cirrus SR22 Aircraft – they were revolutionary, adapting world-class noise cancelling technology that wasn’t available in prior headsets I’ve owned.  Little did I know, there was an even better, quieter, more comfortable headset in my future…

Recently at an industry event, some great friends presented me with a surprise gift that was just perfect:  Not only one, but TWO pairs of Bose A20 Aviation Headsets!  Wow!  I literally turned red in the face with the shock of receiving such an extraordinary gift.  I was so appreciative that I could barely even express my thanks and gratitude in words.  Even though I had already flown many hours that day, I practically wanted to race back to the airport to try them out that very moment.  Needless to say, I absolutely loved the gift and am very thankful for their generosity!

As I climbed into the cockpit of my Cirrus to begin my journey back to Orlando several days later, I put on my new Bose A20 headset for the first time.  It fit like a glove!  They’ve re-designed the spring mechanism so the headset feels like it’s floating on your head, rather than the clamping feeling of my prior Bose X headset.  The ear cushions were also noticeably more comfortable, which have also been re-designed and are slightly larger to cover your entire ear.  The new headset felt great, but just how much better was it than my prior Bose X headset?  Once I leveled off at a safe altitude, I decided to do some real-world testing.  I plugged my prior Bose X headset into one intercom jack, while my new Bose A20 headset was plugged into another jack.  I swapped back and fourth between the headsets throughout my journey.  The noise reduction difference was amazing!  Bose has really raised the bar with noise cancelling technology that’s beyond what I even thought was possible.  Even though I’ve always thought my Bose X headset was great, my new Bose A20 headset blows it away in terms of noise reduction and comfort.

Aside from the many improvements I’ve already mentioned, there are also some additional noteworthy features which have been integrated into the new Bose A20 headset.  The first is Bluetooth technology which allows the headset to be paired with a Bluetooth enabled cellphone such as an iPhone.  Of course you’re not going to be using your phone at altitude, but the Bluetooth connectivity allows for you to have a crystal clear telephone conversation through your headset while on the ground.  This is especially useful when calling for clearances at uncontrolled airports where radio communications are poor or non-existent.  An additional notable feature is the inclusion of an auxiliary input port which runs directly into the headset itself.  This allows you to hook up an iPhone, iPod, or other device to route music and/or other audio directly into your headset without disturbing other passengers.  There’s even a user selectable switch that allows the pilot to select whether the auxiliary input audio is muted or continues playing during times when activity occurs on the aircraft radio.  Bose truly thought of everything when they created these headsets!

While I was excited to write this review immediately after I first started using my new headsets, I purposefully waited until now to do so.  I wanted to get plenty of real-world experience to make a solid determination of their quality and effectiveness before hastily proclaiming their greatness.  I went about doing my business – taking my phenomenal Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft on trip after trip, working to grow my business, as I’ve done for the past several years.  I flew short legs, I flew long legs, and I flew everything in-between.  I flew completely across the country, over the heights of the Rocky Mountains to the depths of sea level in Louisiana.  Needless to say, in a very short period of time, I was able to log many hours of flight time in real-world conditions using my new headsets.  The verdict?  I’m sure it’s quiet clear by now, but just in case you missed it, they’re amazing!  I fly the best single engine aircraft in the world – the Turbo Cirrus SR22 Aircraft – I can now confidently say that it’s equipped with the best headsets in the world – my new Bose A20 Aviation Headsets.

I’d like to once again thank my good friends who surprised and delighted me in such an wonderful way.  My new headsets were the perfect gift which I’ll enjoy using for many years to come as I continue my journey soaring through the blue skies above.

Better comfort, better clarity, better noise cancellation, better features, better everything, my new Bose A20 Aviation Headsets are simply FANTASTIC!