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EAA takes FAA to court over AirVenture fees

Published On: Jul 05 2013 01:14:37 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 08 2013 10:01:05 AM CDT
EAA planes

EAA planes

OSHKOSH, Wis. -

The Experimental Aircraft Association is asking a federal appeals court to review payments to the Federal Aviation Administration for air traffic control services during its annual convention.

EAA filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago on Wednesday. During AirVenture, the FAA usually has its controllers staff the Wittman Regional Airport tower, which becomes the busiest in the world during the duration of the show.

"This affects AirVenture and numerous other aviation events throughout the nation in an unauthorized and unjustified manner," EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said in a statement.

In May, 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. Last month, AirVenture paid nearly $224,000 — under protest — with the remaining sum to be paid after the FAA completes its duties at the convention.

Had AirVenture not paid the money, the FAA would have denied the required special waivers for the air space over Oshkosh.

EAA is asking the appeals court to review the legality of FAA's assessment of the air traffic control fees and reimburse them. EAA maintains the fees were imposed without standard notice and comment procedure from the FAA, making it procedurally improper and unlawful.

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said in an email Friday he couldn't comment on pending legal actions.

FAA officials have said that while Congress restored funding so that air traffic controllers didn't have to be furloughed, the agency still has to cut $384 million in costs by Sept. 30.

EAA's 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 29 through Aug. 4.

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