The U.S. aviation system would suffer a “devastating” hit if the process of automatic federal budget cuts known as “sequestration” takes effect in January, according to industry leaders. An Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) study released yesterday estimates that 132,000 aviation jobs would be lost in the first year as a result of sequestration, which requires $500 billion in federal non-defense spending cuts over the next decade.
Unless Congress acts to repeal the law, the FAA could see $1 billion in cuts from its $16 billion annual budget, AIA president and CEO Marion Blakey said at a luncheon in Washington, D.C., to announce the study. Melissa Rudiger, AOPA vice president of government affairs, said sequestration threatens a general aviation industry that supports 1.5 million jobs; $150 billion in annual economic impact; 5,200 community-funded airports; 2,000 charter companies; 4,100 repair stations; 3,400 flight schools and FBOs; and 265,000 mechanics.
“We believe that general aviation may bear the brunt of some of the more draconian cuts,” Rudiger said. “Things like the [FAA’s] contract tower program would probably be cut at least in half, if not more. That impacts safety and local economies.”