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AOPA wants to hear about problems resulting for FAA sequestration cuts

On March 1 the administration and Congress failed to halt legislation that imposes automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts of $85 billion. The FAA told aviation industry representatives that its share of cuts would total $600 million—the largest portion of the cuts sustained by the Department of Transportation.

To reach those savings, FAA officials have decided to close nearly 200 control towers at airports around the country, reduce repairs to most of the nation’s navigational aids, and give most of the FAA’s 47,000 employees a one-day-per pay period furlough.

AOPA President Craig Fuller on March 6 leveled sharp criticism at the sequestration cuts planned by the Obama administration and the FAA, suggesting that the decision to close control towers and scale back aviation services constitutes a risk to aviation safety.
"Rational savings can be found, and we are ready to work with the FAA and the Department of Transportation to build workable solutions. But closing more than 200 air traffic control towers, derailing certification, and allowing our navigational aid system to deteriorate just doesn’t make sense."

“These are vital FAA commitments and abandoning them is unsafe, unwise, and unacceptable to AOPA members.”


It’s important to bring some practical information to this situation. Here is what AOPA says with confidence:

** Airports will remain open.
** Many GA flights can and will proceed as normal, even if some towers are closed.

Those of you who fly and require the assistance of air traffic controllers may be the first to feel the consequences of sequestration.

Controllers at towers and en route facilities help pilots avoid trouble every day—something most of us know from first-hand experience. And that’s where sequestration may really hit hard.

The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that these cuts will take weeks to fully materialize. FAA furloughs and tower closures won’t start until April. That gives policymakers a few more weeks to find answers.

In the meantime, be alert for changes affecting your flight plans, and let AOPA know if you experience any problems associated with sequestration cuts. We’ll keep working with Congress, the FAA, DOT, and others to find the best solutions for GA pilots, and they will keep you in the loop.