FAA to Take Big Hit Under Sequestration
A new report by House Appropriations Committee Democrats details the economic risks from sequestration and warns that the FAA will face significant reductions under the automatic budget cuts slated for March 1.
The total reduction to the agency’s operations and equipment budget will exceed $619 million, the report advises. As a result, should sequestration move forward, the agency would institute a complete hiring freeze on March 1 with as many as 4,000 employees facing furloughs.
The majority ($483 million) of the cut would come from the FAA’s operations budget, immediately impacting the aviation safety workforce and the agency’s oversight capacity. According to estimates, as many as 1,480 ongoing aircraft and parts manufacturing projects could face significant delays due to workforce reductions. The potential $136 million cut to the FAA’s capital program would hinder the transition to the NextGen satellite navigation system and could also force the agency to delay the launch of new programs and prevent modernization of facilities.
The report also warns of the potential long-term impact from the cuts. With the FAA facing reduced capacity during the busy summer travel season, the aviation trust fund would receive less than anticipated revenues. Fewer receipts will force the agency to rely more heavily on scarce general funds. Additionally, any long-term budget reductions instituted because of sequestration will only further strain the agency’s limited workforce.
Be sure to help ARSA’s efforts to find an alternative to the harsh and indiscriminate costs of budget sequestration. Visit ARSAaction.org and urge your lawmakers to find alternative measures to reduce the national debt.
LaHood to Senate: FAA will face brunt of DOT sequester impact
Echoing the Appropriations Committee report, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) that sequestration would “force the FAA to undergo an immediate retrenchment of core functions by reducing operating costs, and eliminating or reducing services to various segments of the flying community.”
LaHood stated that the vast majority of the agency’s employees will be furloughed for approximately one day per pay period. The furloughs will lead to a reduction of air traffic controllers, which in turn will create a corresponding decline in the volume of national air traffic. The secretary also cautioned that furloughs would impact aviation safety employees and delay safety approvals and certifications. LaHood’s letter noted that the sequestration would likely delay NextGen for years and cause the indefinite postponement of investments in advanced technologies.
In conclusion, LaHood told Mikulski that sequestration would mean “less efficient and less convenient air travel”; but stated department’s highest priority “is to keep the aviation system safe even if it means disruptions and delays in service.”