In response to recent reports that looming sequestration could delay more than 1,400 ongoing aircraft and parts manufacturing projects and force furloughs for FAA employees, Aeronautical Repair Station Association (Arsa) vice president of legislative affairs Daniel Fisher is urging the U.S. Congress to act to address the scheduled government budget cuts.
“Arsa strongly encourages congressional leaders to avoid the automatic budgets cuts set to go into effect because of sequestration. Sequestration will hit aviation hard. In particular, it will exacerbate certification and inspection delays for repair stations, hindering job creation and economic growth,.” he said in a statement.
“Most everyone agrees: the federal government’s budget needs to be reduced, probably well above the level required in sequestration,” added Fisher. “What makes sequestration so painful is its indiscriminate nature. Agencies are given little leeway to focus the cuts on programs that may be ineffective or inefficient. Instead, most all programs are just whacked by at least five percent. I am confident that the aviation maintenance industry’s stellar safety record will not be impacted, but when lawmakers don’t give the FAA the resources to carry out congressional mandates, the losers are the hardworking men and women of the aviation industry.”
In an exclusive interview with AIN, Fisher and Gary Fortner, vice president of quality and engineering at Fortner Engineering in Glendale, Calif., and Arsa’s 2013 president, expressed concern about the implications specifically for aviation maintenance. As a heavily regulated industry, the aviation sector is worried about the impact of sequestration, and those involved in aircraft maintenance are particularly concerned because that sector of aviation tends to be less visible to the legislators.
“Because much of the FAA’s budget goes to employee salaries, I don’t see how furloughs are not a large part of the agency’s cuts,” Fortner said. “Up to now, much of the talk inside the [Washington, D.C.] Beltway has been on sequestration’s impact on air traffic controllers and TSA security screeners. However, aviation maintenance executives believe other areas, such as certifications and inspections, could face the brunt of question.”
By some estimates as much as a billion dollars could be cut from the Department of Transportation’s budget including $600 million from the FAA, which could translate into that agency losing as many as 47,000 employees.
“Decision makers, to the extent possible, will probably target cuts where the public will feel the least amount of pain. The perception is that furloughing certification and inspection personnel will cause the least disruption to the air traffic system. However, these cuts will affect repair stations’ ability to get timely service and will hamper those organizations from meeting the ever-expanding demands that Congress has placed upon them. When the FAA isn’t given adequate resources, my company is challenged to complete its work in an efficient manner,” Fortner said.