U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt was the keynote speaker at a well-attended Wichita Aero Club luncheon on Tuesday. He addressed several issues that threaten to impact the aviation industry.
First, it's been a battle to get people in Congress to stop talking negatively about the use of business jets. It all started when three U.S. automakers flew their private jets to Washington to ask for a bailout.
Tiahrt has confronted each member of Congress who has spoken out against their use, reminding them that the industry creates high-quality, high-paying jobs. In addition, jets are productivity tools, he told them, not symbols of excess.
Also threatening the use of business jets is an idea to implement user fees to help fund the nation’s air traffic control system. The onerous fees would hurt the use and sale of business aircraft.
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Tiahrt said he wants to expand a bonus depreciation plan that would allow buyers of business aircraft to depreciate their planes at a faster rate. That would give the industry a boost, he said.
He also gave an update on the Air Force's plan to replace its aging fleet of aerial refueling tankers.
The Department of Defense is expected to issue a request for proposal directly after the Labor Day holiday, with a decision on whether to buy tankers from Boeing or Airbus planes from Northrop Grumman in mid-2010.
The process has been fraught with controversy and delays.
"We're pushing for an American tanker made by American workers by an American company," Tiahrt said.