Common Sense Prevails in Florida

After years of false starts, the Florida legislature wisely passed legislation clarifying the rights of aircraft owners traveling to Florida. Under the new legislation aircraft owners who purchased their planes within the six months prior to coming to Florida will be able to keep their aircraft in state for any 21 days within this six month period. The 21 days can be for any purpose, and do not need to be contiguous. An aircraft owner may come to Florida within this period for an unlimited amount of time for the exclusive purpose of flight training, repairs, retrofitting, or modification without fear of being assessed use tax on the purchase price of the plane.

This legislation brings aircraft owners’ rights in line with boat owners, who have long enjoyed this “21 day” provision. Aircraft owners should maintain a file with “proof” of their presence for 21 days or less. This should include fuel receipts from other states on the days the owner is elsewhere, tie-down receipts for temporary stays, copies of hangar leases from the plane’s “state of origin” or home base, and, of course, fully updated flight logs showing comings and goings. Commercial flight records such as from FlightAware should be used to back up personal records and receipts. IFR flight plans also help. Contact us for further guidance on how to make sure you are protected from a Florida sales or use tax assessment.

Close Call In Maryland

Wisely choosing not to further pressure private aviation businesses, the Maryland legislature defeated a measure that would have imposed a 1-percent luxury surtax on aircraft costing $36,000.00 or more, plus 2 percent of amounts above $90,000. This was a wise decision (as in other close-call states) on the Eastern Seaboard given the proximity to Maryland of states such as Massachusetts, which charge no sales tax on aircraft, or Connecticut, which charges no tax on larger aircraft and exempts all maintenance activity from sales tax as well.

What is NextGen? Are We Moving Forward?

Our present air traffic control system is, in a phrase, a relic of the 1950’s, and it is about time that our country moves towards a “smarter” and safer system for managing air travel. The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the FAA’s plan to modernize the National Airspace System (NAS) through 2025.

NextGen is intended to replace the present radio-based communications network with a satellite/GPS based system that allows for more flexibility in how aircraft are spaced and landed. It is intended to reduce the amount of communication necessary between pilots and ground personnel, and is geared towards allowing the capabilities of the aircraft define who can fly where and how. This in turn opens up the possibility for faster and more direct routes between takeoff and landing.

The program encompasses other regulatory changes to achieve weather forecasting, data networking, and digital communications improvements as well.

Naturally, such an effort requires time, coordination, and of course, money. FAA has requested $1.14 billion for the NextGen program in fiscal 2011, a 32 percent increase from fiscal 2010. Consumed with health care issues, Congress has yet to pass a final Federal Aviation Administration bill incorporating NextGen funding, although an extension is in place.

However haltingly, it is encouraging that our nation has taken steps towards modernizing our air travel infrastructure. Stay posted with us, and the FAA, at http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=8768.