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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

House Appropriations Committee Outlines Sequester’s Impact on FAA

Woodrow Bellamy III

A day after President Barack Obama called for an alternative to the upcoming sequester, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee released a report outlining the impact of the $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts scheduled to occur in two weeks, including the impact to FAA’s operating budget.

According to the report, the Office of Management and Budget will sequester $85 billion in federal spending for fiscal year 2013 on March 1st, mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The reduced spending will include reductions to the operations, facilities, and equipment accounts of the FAA to exceed cuts of $619 million. The cuts can be avoided if Congress provides a restructured federal deficit reduction plan.

Additionally, the Appropriations Committee said FAA would be required to reduce its operational activities budget by nearly $483 million. The report outlines a domino effect that would have on the nation’s air transportation system, because FAA would implement a hiring freeze and be unable to replace departing air traffic controllers; 30 percent of which are currently eligible to retire. New controllers take more than three years to train.

“As much as 10 percent of FAA’s workforce of 40,000 would be ‘on furlough’ on any given day resulting in reduced air traffic control, longer delays and economic losses for air transportation, tourism and the economy as a whole,” the committee said.

The report also mentions sequestration’s impact on approval of new aircraft and part manufacturing projects. The agency estimates that its reduced budget would force certification and safety inspectors to focus on oversight of existing operators, impacting the approval process of as many as 1,480 ongoing aircraft and aircraft component projects.

“Just yesterday, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta warned that furloughs would damage all segments of the aviation industry as well as air travelers,” said Marion Blakey CEO of Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), in reaction to the president’s State of the Union address.

AIA is a trade group that has been calling for an alternative to the sequester in recent months.

“Massive travel delays and disruptions during the summer travel season, slowed certifications and safety approvals and long-term delays to delivery of critical Next Generation Air Transportation System components will slam the brakes on economic growth,” Blakey added. More

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