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"Spatially Speaking" is the official MAPPS blog providing information on topics related to the association and profession and MAPPS involvement with the issues.

 

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MAPPS Creates Forums to Facilitate Engagement

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014

It is my pleasure to inform you of an exciting new activity in MAPPS.

In November, the MAPPS Board of Directors met for two days to engage in a 360 degree review of the association.  Given the economy, government budgets and shutdowns, generational changes, emerging markets and technologies, and the rise of social media, the Board met with a representative group of members, former members, prospective members, and government partners to get feedback on what the association is doing right, and where MAPPS can improve.

As a result, one new program is already being launched.

The Board has reorganized MAPPS committees, task forces, and working groups.  

We are launching a new series of MAPPS "Forums" to replace several previous committees and task forces. Forums are communities within MAPPS that address issues affecting firms, their products and services, and markets.  Each member firm of MAPPS is encouraged to join at least one forum.  The forums will not only meet at MAPPS conferences, but host conference calls, organize webinars, and engage in communications using the features of the MAPPS web site. 

The forums will provide members an even greater sense of "belonging” and add value to being a member firm in MAPPS.  Forums are a way for you to share and gain information and knowledge, network, solve problems, and work with your peers to improve your business and contribute to the well being of the geospatial profession at and apart from attendance at MAPPS meetings and conferences.
 
Our initial forums will be on:
Aerial Acquisition
Cadastre
Commercial Remote Sensing & Licensed Data
Emerging Markets & Technologies
GEOINT
Government & University Competition
Infrastructure
Ocean & Coastal Mapping
Small Business
Surveying

Each forum meet at the Winter Conference in San Diego.
 
A description of each is on the MAPPS web site, along with a way for you to enroll.  This is a wonderful opportunity to get even more benefit from your membership in MAPPS, as well as a great way to give back to your profession.

Finally, if there is something in which you have an interest that is NOT part of one of these forums, the MAPPS Board would welcome your ideas for additional forums.  Please email me with your thoughts and suggestions.

Once again, in an economy where you’re counting every dollar, it’s good to know you can count on MAPPS.

Tags:  Aviation  Cadastre  Commercial Remote Sensing  Forums  GEOINT  Government Competition  Licensed Data  Small Business  Surveying  UAV  University Competition 

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Longer Depreciation Schedules and Air Traffic Control

Posted By Rich Breitlow, Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Richard Breitlow is an account executive with AGFA Materials Corporation, where he specializes in aerial photography product sales. He is the former chairman of the Aerial Acquisition Committee of MAPPS with more than 38 years’ experience in the aerial photography business.

Recently, President Obama proposed a Federal debt and deficit reduction plan that includes slower and longer depreciation schedules for business owned aircraft. While billed as eliminating a tax loophole for corporate executives’ jets, the proposal would also adversely affect small businesses, including aerial imagery and geospatial data collection operators. MAPPS has already commented

Now the "President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction" has been released, including a proposed $100 per flight fee for air traffic control services. This double-whammy on the aerial survey profession is both economically unwise and politically burdensome and unfair.

Like other aviation related associations, MAPPS recognizes the need to pay for air traffic control (ATC) services. General aviation has historically paid for those services through fuel taxes, commonly referred to as "pay at the pump". The proposed $100 fee per flight would add a whole new accounting requirement and new level of government bureaucracy just to administer and enforce the new requirement. The best way for general aviation to pay for ATC services is to continue to pay at the pump. Whether the current amount taxed is appropriate, or should be raised is another argument. Certainly there is a lot of waste in FAA spending that should be eliminated before increases are considered.

The Obama Administration portrayed the proposed fee as a tax on corporate jets. However the actual wording only excludes military aircraft, public aircraft, recreational piston aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights. All aerial survey flights in controlled airspace would be subject to the proposed fee, regardless of aircraft type. MAPPS has gone on record in opposition to per flight air traffic control fees.

Adding a $100 fee per flight for ATC services would only further burden a profession already hard-hit by the decline in the housing market, and the economy in general, and would certainly have a negative impact on hiring. This fee would have just the opposite effect of the intent of the President's "jobs bill".

Lobbyists for commercial airlines have long favored measures to shift a larger share of the burden for ATC services to general aviation. However, attempts in the past to include a per flight ATC user fee or "charge" in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Authorization bill have been met with stiff opposition.

The current effort will, and should, meet a similar fate.

While the President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction appears to have little chance of passing Congress, parts of it could find its way into the "Super Committee's" plan to reduce the national debt and annual government deficit. This is where the real danger lies.

In order to protect the interests of the aerial survey profession, and the public and clients we serve, I suggest:
  • the current Pay at the Pump method be preserved as the best way for general aviation to help pay for ATC services and the "fee per flight" concept be rejected,
  • Identify "Super Committee” members who are aviation friendly and urge them to either reject the fee outright, or adopt wording to exclude flights that are primarily work operations, such as small businesses operating aircraft for aerial surveys.
  • Identify FAA activities that can be reformed, eliminated or privatized to save money and explore a more balanced and equitable method of paying for FAA and ATC services that does not unfairly target general aviation generally or aerial survey operations in particular.

Tags:  ATC  Aviation  Congress  FAA  Tax 

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Those Aren’t Rich Corporate Executives’ Jets, They’re Small Businesses – The Backbone of America’s Economy

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, September 15, 2011

President Obama - and almost every other political figure on the American landscape – has at one time or another declared that small business is the backbone of America’s economy. Then why is the President proposing to raise taxes on the very entrepreneurs he’s counting on to create jobs?

 Photo provided by Keystone Aerial Surveys
On Monday, President Obama formally sent his "American Jobs Act” to Congress.  As promised in his address to Congress and the Nation last Thursday, the package includes measures to pay for his latest proposal to jump start the American economy. Included in the bill is a provision on "General Aviation Aircraft Treated As 7-Year Property”. That’s tax jargon for the President’s now infamous but inaccurate attack on a tax loophole for corporate jets.

The fact of the matter is most general aviation aircraft is owned by small to mid-sized businesses, not corporate fat cats.  These planes and helicopters are not used to whisk CEO’s off to exotic destinations.  Rather, they are used for aerial photography in support of surveying and mapping of new highways, monitor dangerous encroachment of underground pipelines, conduct danger tree surveys to prevent power outages, apply fertilizer and pesticides to crops for maximum yield of food by farmers, researching the atmosphere and environment, keep an eye on traffic, and move employees, customers, cargo and products.

The President’s plan is based on polling and focus group sessions that show average Americans frustration with tax loopholes that permit some individuals and businesses to pay little or no taxes. In fact, what is at issue is the length of time a taxpayer is permitted for depreciation of an asset, in this case an airplane. Owners of business aircraft can depreciate their investment over five years. President Obama has proposed changing the depreciation schedule for general aviation aircraft to seven years calling the current five year schedule a tax loophole. The depreciation schedule for general aviation aircraft has been in existence since the early 1980s.  Business aircraft are treated similarly to other assets such as cars, trucks, and certain equipment, which can be depreciated over a five year period when purchased for business use.

According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), in the first six months of 2011, total general aviation airplane shipments worldwide fell 15.5 percent, from 936 in 2010 to 791 this year.  There is no doubt the Obama proposal would only make this situation worse.

Shorter depreciation schedules create jobs. The faster a business can expense capital equipment, the faster it can buy more – putting more people to work. Making it difficult for businesses to purchase and depreciate aircraft will not punish wealthy CEO’s, but reduce jobs for the pilots, crews, mechanics, airport operations workers, and ultimately the folks that work the assembly lines at aircraft factories. At a time when application of digital aerial imagery, LIDAR and other airborne acquired geospatial data is exploding, aerial photographers, surveyors, and users of geospatial services will also see their jobs jeopardized.

It is difficult to see how taxing aircraft supports the broader goal of addressing the nation's job crisis. This proposal is virtually identical to what happened in 1990 when Congress imposed a "luxury” tax on yachts. The rich people who could afford these boats were unaffected, but the workers built them lost their jobs. As a result, Congress scrambled to repeal the tax. Pardon the pun, but Congress should not let the plane tax proposal ever get off the ground.

Tags:  Aviation  Congress  Jobs  Tax 

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